How Kenyans crowd disaster scenes, impeding rescue

May 31, 2012 8:19 am


Onlookers crowded the scene of the blast on Monday, hampering rescue services
NAIROBI, Kenya, May 31 – Whenever a disaster happens in Kenya, it follows that a huge crowd of curious onlookers gathers around the scene.

During Monday’s explosion at Assanand’s House on Moi Avenue, an uncontrollable crowd gathered, hampering rescue operations.

The crowd made it impossible for fire engines to reach the scene and they had to find an alternative route, taking longer to put out the ensuing fire.

According to the Kenya Red Cross Society Search and Rescue Manager Ndighila Venant, what this mob does not know is that there is a “golden hour” that is crucial for any rescue efforts to take place.

“The golden hour is the time between the happening of the incident and the time we save this person or we extricate him or her from this situation or the time which we offer the required relief whether it means medical, search and rescue or any other help,” he explains.

Ndighila says the ‘golden hour” is very crucial and when curious onlookers block the way for rescue teams, this poses a risk to the victims who may be trapped or even bleeding heavily.

“Once they (crowd) elongate because of hindering the access to these victims then definitely more harm is caused through bleeding and lack of air,” he says.

As the crowd gathers around a scene, they prevent the experts who bring in the required relief at that time and prevent the immediate help which is required by the victims making the situation deteriorate even further.

“We have seen it in fire engines, ambulances getting problems in accessing the actual site of the incident. We get a lot of problems accessing the site,” he complained.

Ndighila is of the opinion that continuous civic education is very crucial for the public to be aware of the do’s and don’ts when a disaster strikes.

“People need to understand that this place is dangerous and unless one is an expert in emergency response or security, he has no business going to that direction,” the retired major says.

He advised Kenyans to always remember that a disaster site is a dangerous place until it has been declared safe by security agents.

“Any disaster incident especially in urban areas, the people who we require at the scene are the emergency medical people, technical experts like search and rescue and security,” he says.

And for civilians who would want to help in cases of a limited response team capacity, Ndighila says it is important to first report to emergency teams or the police at the scene to receive instructions.


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