When an major disaster strikes, even the best, highly trained agencies are typically overwhelmed and unable to make all potential rescues. As we witnessed first hand in Japan following the 2011 earthquake, preparedness initiatives, strict building codes, early warning systems and citizen mitigation programs saved thousands of lives. Learning from Japanese affect toward disaster, the "Rescue: First 48!" initiative is an effort to increase our own community disaster preparedness and mitigation.
90% of persons who survive entrapment are rescued in the first 48 hours after the acute event. First responders are tasked with immediately saving lives, but during major events, local resources quickly become overwhelmed and are unable to reach all potential survivors. As demonstrated by events such as Katrina, and the recent wildfires in the western United States, agencies would have to triple their current capacity to meet the demands of the first 48 hours following a major earthquake.
The members of EMPACT USAR are motivated by what we have witnessed from responding to disasters around the globe. The greatest challenge is instilling a warranted sense of urgency within our own communities. We are highly trained, experienced rescue professionals, and to this strength, we are dedicated to training career and volunteer firefighters, police officers, capable citizens and medical providers in basic rescue techniques that are critical to saving lives in the "first 48."
Misunderstanding nature's power can lead to a false sense of preparedness, inaction, or even cause communities to gamble with probability. Disasters happen, loss of life occurs, but the unnecessary loss of life is a factor agreeably worth mitigating. EMPACT vows to educate our current responders with basic rescue techniques and contribute to a ready reserve of volunteers and other capable providers to industry standards. We must act now to ensure we are ready for the "big one."