As the world watches in horror and hopelessness, the people of Haiti are trying to extricate themselves from one of the great natural disasters of our lifetime. As I write, thousands of people are still alive, trapped beneath the rubble of what was once Port-Au-Prince. Very soon, most of these people will die, along with scores of the relatively unscathed who have no food, no water and no shelter. Faced with formidable logistical obstacles, the rescuers will not be able to reach most of the trapped people in time and the trickle of essential supplies may be too late for many others.
Our thoughts are with everyone who is suffering in this unimaginable disaster.
As the roads are cleared and supplies finally make their way into what is left of Haiti's capital, rescuers will face enormous hazards. Unstable buildings may collapse at any moment. Further aftershocks are likely. Everyone in the devastated landscape is breathing air contaminated with toxins. There is even a danger of mob violence, as victims become increasingly frustrated by the lack of effective response.
Among the many issues that need confronting at this time, workers comp coverage for the rescuers is probably at the bottom of the list. Yet we know from the World Trade Center experience that many first responders will be exposed to life-threatening injury and illness in the coming days and weeks. Given the magnitude of human suffering in front of them, these responders are not about to raise the issue of their own disability coverage. But the day will come when the extent and nature of that protection is paramount, when the as-yet undiscussed benefits will be an absolute necessity for individual rescuers and their families.
We blogged recently about the personal risk management in which we all engage on a daily basis. We make our choices, moment to moment, in the expectation that nothing really bad will happen. If our luck holds, we live to face the micro challenges of another day.
For the poor people of Haiti and the brave souls trying desperately to help them, the time for micro management is over. The challenge of a lifetime confronts them with savage force. May all who suffer find peace and may all who are trying to alleviate the suffering return home safely.
See a post at HR Web Cafe on Haiti earthquake resources, which includes links for:
- Finding missing loved ones
- Ways that you can help
- Avoiding scams
- News resources
- Twitter feeds