Montreal would not be ready to react in the event of a major earthquake
No one is prepared to respond to an earthquake that causes thousands of injuries < p>Joanne Liu, a pediatrician and professor at McGill University's School of Population and Global Health on pandemic and health emergencies, says no one is prepared to respond to an earthquake that causes thousands of injuries and death in minutes. “I wouldn't want that to happen in Montreal, because we would be in trouble. I think we would run out of mechanical shovels,” she says.
In an interview on Radio-Canada’s Tout un matin, Dr. Liu, who was once President of Medeçins Sans Frontières, explained all the organizational complexity of the first aid measures to be set in motion after a major disaster, such as the earthquakes which caused the death of at least 5,000 people in Turkey and Syria on Monday.
After the sort of chaos that follows an earthquake, Dr. Liu stresses that humanitarian aid is deployed in three stages: search and rescue operations, rapid relief of people under the rubble and, finally, the need to ensure the vital needs of the population (shelter, water and food).
Difficulty of&rsquo ;access
In the case of Monday's earthquake, one of the main obstacles to rapid intervention is accessibility instead of the tragedy.
“It is very complicated, because Syria is a country at war and it is there is an issue of borders. Fortunately, there is a resolution at the United Nations Security Council that is renewed every six months to allow cross-border humanitarian aid. The last one was signed on January 9, 2023,” says Dr. Liu.
She considers that humanitarian aid is nevertheless well organized in Turkey, because there are many NGOs – non-governmental organizations – on the ground who have already welcomed millions of Syrian refugees. “It makes a big difference,” she said.
The list of victims is likely to increase drastically over the next few days, believes Dr. Liu. The WHO says that number could be as high as 20,000. “There are those who will be found too late in the rubble, but also those who will have died of hypothermia due to lack of water and food.”
Among the other victims, there will be those who will not have access to the required drugs. “While the wounded must be cared for, pregnant women continue to give birth and the sick need their medications,” said Dr. Liu.
Dr. Liu mentioned that Canada could contribute by providing assistance to its local partners. “The Canadian Red Cross will work with the Turkish Red Crescent. And if there are material needs via an airlift, Canada could participate.”