Pre-GA on Disaster Risk Management
It is already Monday morning, and I cannot believe that the pre-GA is already behind us. In the last two days, I had the incredible opportunity to meet wonderful and highly motivated students from all over the world and gain an incredible amount of information on disaster risk management. I am writing this post while delegates are arriving from all over the world and registering, bringing the total number of participates to around a thousand people. Remembering people’s names was already difficult with a few hundreds, so now it sure is time to step up my game!
In our pre-GA on disaster risk management, possibly the most interesting workshop in my opinion, we had the opportunity to simulate a disaster, in our case a train accident with over 200 victims on an island. We were separated in three different groups, and each group was representing a different hospital on the island. Each group was using three computers, and we were all connected thanks to a computer program developed by the CRIMEDIM center at the University of Eastern Piedmont in Italy. We were able to simulate stressful disaster conditions requiring coordination within and between each hospital and pre-hospital actors. We even had patients coming by helicopters! While none of us previously had any experience handling such a disaster, we were quickly able to coordinate our efforts to handle as many casualties as possible. Thanks to feedback from experts in this field, Dr. Luca Ragazzoni and Dr. Luca Carenzo, we were able to discuss some of our strengths and weaknesses, and get a better idea of what to expect should such a disaster occur in our respective areas. This was truly a unique experience that I hope can be made accessible to any medical student interesting in the field. At the end of the disaster simulation, I had the chance to discuss the possibility of a future partnership between the CRIMEDIM center and IFMSA, as well as ways to bring their expertise to Quebec despite the challenge of the distance.
I also had the chance to meet representatives from the IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War), and they presented their organization to us, as well as their international congress that will take place in Kazakhstan in August 2014 following a bike tour around the country. During their three-week 800-km bike tour, they will be going through towns and meeting people and officials to advocate against nuclear weapons.
On our last day, we also had workshops on the ethics of disaster management and discussed the triage system. It involved extremely interesting and controversial conversations regarding issues that one would face in a disaster. Do you treat people equally using methods such as lottery or the principle of first-come first-served, or do you give priority to the sickest? Do you aim to maximize the number of lives saved, or base your criteria on prognosis? We based an important part of the discussion on a paper published in the Lancet in 2009.
We also read, discussed and gave our input on the Proposed Elements for Consideration in the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. This was my first time analyzing a UN policy paper and while it was very challenging, it gave me a much clearer picture of the UN logic.
Overall, I am really happy I decided to attend this workshop, and I am looking forward to the coming days at the GA!