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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
One of my roles as a university staff member is to visit schools throughout the country to deliver a series of 1 h talk to pupils in the 14-18 year-old age range, and what an enlightening and rewarding experience it is.
The most frequently requested talk is aptly entitled “When Disaster Strikes” which is a “no holds barred” account of what it is like for those who have to live through earthquakes, droughts, air and rail disaster, floods, etc. I don't leave out the nasty bits such as the triage regime, but explain the reasoning behind them. This stimulates lively discussion which frequently overshadows the rest of the talk.
The talk includes photographs and video material of actual scenes and sites and the photographs of emergency hospitals and shelters are compared to those frequently seen on television soap-dramas. “Where is the resuscitation trolley?”, “Where is the surgeon's team of specialist nurses and the like?”, “Where are the paramedics?” These and many other frequently asked questions soon stimulate a lively discussion which allows me to paint the picture as it is.
At the end the question is always asked of “How can we help?” The answer is always forthcoming.
But, it has always saddened me that we are too ready to condemn those of the tender years but why are we wasting such enthusiasm and talent and not harnessing it to mutual benefit. When asked that important question I frequently guide them through to the answer that they want to hear, and it is not just about raising money.
We can have individual schools in the developed world adopt schools in disaster areas; we can have a system of postal (or e-mail) befriending of those children who have lost their families, we could have the pupils act as a conduit for emergency planners in the underdeveloped nations which allows them to acquire up to date knowledge which is available on the World Wide Web but to which they have no access. The list of such activities is virtually endless.
Out there we have a wealth of enthusiasm and talent in our teenagers that is waiting to become involved. Think about how you can become involved. Start to offer talks about worldwide disaster scenarios to your local schools and see how you can tap and guide that enthusiasm.