Disaster response expert gives keynote speech at conference

Mass fatality disasters expert Dr Lucy Easthope, from the School of Life Sciences, recently facilitated a seminar about meeting the needs of emergency responders.

The event, organised by the Tayside Local Resilience Partnership in Dundee, was aimed at managing responders’ needs during a mass fatalities incident.

The day focussed on the emergency services and the local authority, which would respond to an incident with mass casualties and discussed how to look after staff that have been involved or responded to the incident.

Dr Easthope’s consultancy and research specialisms focus on mass fatalities planning, Disaster Victim Identification (DVI), community recovery and the care of survivors, the bereaved and the deceased after disaster. She also has a special interest in the care and return of personal effects.

She has advised governments, corporations and relief agencies in the aftermath of major incidents, including the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes in New Zealand, as well as developing contingency plans, training programmes and exercises with a number of international organisations.

She has also participated in the response to major aviation disasters, the Bali terrorist attacks and the operations at Brize Norton during the military campaign in Iraq.

Dr Easthope gave the main presentation and there was also a case study presented on the Clutha incident in Glasgow where a police helicopter crashed into the roof of a bar killing 10 people.

Dr Easthope said: “Meeting the needs of emergency responders is a particular passion of mine and the day was invaluable for identifying various lessons that can be implemented in future mass fatalities disasters.”

Seminar attendee Charlie Maclean-Bristol posted this comment on his recent blog: “Listening to the lectures and people taking about their experiences was quite humbling and very much brought home to me the reality of the incidents we plan for as business continuity people. When we develop business continuity we are very much focused on objects, buildings, telephony, IT and suppliers and sometimes I think we treat our staff as another object. Going to the seminar reminded me of the human aspects of an incident and how even just the death of one person in the workplace, not even as part of an incident, can have a major impact on an organisation.”