FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+RSS Feed
Fire EMSEMS TodayEMS Insider

Shaken, and Stirred

LOS ANGELES -- We got lucky this time. Count Tuesday's earthquake as a 5.4-magnitude reminder of how long it's been since Southern California had a big one, and how complacent we have become.

The wild ride of the earth rolling beneath our feet delivers a jolt of fear that few other natural disasters can match. We are suddenly literally shaken into realizing that nothing in life, not even terra firma, is firm. And although better building codes have made this a safer region in which to ride out quakes, we are not prepared in other ways to maximize our chances for both immediate and longer-term survival.

Just two weeks ago, City Controller Laura Chick released an audit of Los Angeles' disaster preparedness, reporting that the city lacks a coherent emergency strategy, that response plans are outdated and that training is poorly coordinated. At Tuesday's council meeting, shortly after the shaking stopped, Chick complained that City Hall personnel were unprepared to react to the quake or to inform the public about what was happening.

Capacity for emergency medical care has been shrinking. Three months ago, Robert E. Tranquada, an emeritus professor of medicine and public policy at USC, noted in an opinion article in The Times that the county has lost 12 hospital-based emergency rooms in the last decade and that 11 of 23 trauma centers have closed in the last 20 years.

Nor are we much better prepared at home. When hundreds of people wrote in to The Times' website within minutes to share their experiences of the quake, among the stories were reports of unsecured bric-a-brac that had fallen or children who had never experienced an earthquake and had no idea what to do. And how many of us, if we ever had a home earthquake kit complete with bottled water, have bothered to update it in the last five years? As one of those who posted put it: "A reminder Must get quake provisions ready!"

It's easy to ignore theoretical reports such as the one released in May by the U.S. Geological Survey and the California Geological Survey warning that a catastrophic quake, like the one that struck China, was inevitable here, and that individuals and governments were not up to the challenge. After all, we have other disasters to worry about these days. The state budget. Wildfire seasons that have grown in duration and ferocity. The sinking values of our homes. We naturally respond to the most immediate events. In that case, Tuesday's quake may have provided a useful jolt of reality.


FERNO's New 'Proof of Concept' Ambulance has the EMS Industry Talking

You'll hear a lot more about this innovative new ambulance interior, so I will just highlight what its most impressive offerings are to me: Interchangable, c...

Washington State Signs Community Paramedicine Bill into Law

With a lot of passion and perseverance, it’s possible to change the history of EMS.

Firefighters Rescue Man Who Wedged Inside Wall to Evade Cops

A central Indiana man who hid inside a wall in his home to avoid arrest had to berescued by firefighters after he became wedged next to its chimney for ...

17 Patients Evaluated After Plane Makes Emergency Landing

SkyWest spokeswoman Marissa Snow said new information from medical personnel confirmed that "a total of three passengers reported a loss of consciousnes...

Nurse Practitioner Now Responding to EMS Calls with Green Valley Fire

The district has started a first of its kind program that brings urgent medical care right into a patient's home.

New WTC Study Focuses on EMS Personnel

New research shows that EMS workers who went to Ground Zero suffer from poor health.

Features by Topic

JEMS Connect




Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

Featured Careers