Disaster Life Support: The 21st Century’s CPR
By Maurice Ramirez, D.O.
was invented in the 1970s, the goal was to train as many potential
bystanders as possible to help if someone had a heart attack or choked
in public. In an effort to educate everyone about the importance of
learning basic chest compression and the Heimlich maneuver, even Hollywood
got in on the act, incorporating the practices into movie and TV
storylines. As a result of great marketing, these days, virtually
everyone knows what CPR is, and hundreds of thousands of people are
trained to do it.
In the new
millennium, a heightened awareness of both terrorism and the impact of
natural disasters has created a need for a “new CPR,” core skills
that will help both laypeople and medical professionals meet the
challenges of man-made and natural disasters. Why is this important?
The 1994 Oak Ridge, California, earthquake wiped out eight hospitals and affected twenty million
Last year, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma
decimated much of three major Gulf Coast cities.
In 2004 Hurricanes Charlie, Frances, Ivan, and
Jeanne laid waste to Florida.
And no one will ever forget the World Trade Center
bombings on September 11, 2001.
Today, you need DLS more than CPR: Ironically, many people believe
they need CPR training more than they need training in Disaster Life Support
(DLS), owing to thirty years of great public relations efforts on
behalf of CPR. The fact is, you are far more likely to be called upon
at some point in your life to utilize Disaster Life Support
skills than you are likely to be a bystander when someone experiences
sudden heart death, for which CPR was designed.
idea here is heightened
awareness; like heart attacks, disasters have always happened, but
we’re more aware of disasters than ever before and are therefore
called upon to respond as never before. The number of people in the
last decade who have been directly affected by natural disaster
exceeds the number of people who have experienced sudden heart death
in the last two decades. In
other words, the likelihood that you, your family, or your neighbors
are going to need Disaster Life Support
skills is actually twice as
great as the chance that you will ever need to use your CPR skills!
DLS training available for everyone: If Disaster Life Support
is the new CPR, then the National Disaster Life Support
Foundation (NDLS) parallels the American Heart Association.
Established by the American Medical Association, this group of
universities and government agencies saw an evolving risk two years
before 9-11 and a need for the lay-public, health care providers, and
advanced health care providers to have basic skill sets in the event
of a disaster.
in Disaster Life Support
is offered as a public service, usually through universities, although
it is not yet consistently marketed well, so you may not know about it
in a timely fashion. Though universities and the federal government
feel the critical need to train health care providers and first
responders, they also offer training to anyone who wants to come to a
Core Disaster Life Support
citizens to first protect themselves and then deal as first responders
and medical responders to natural and man-made disaster, the NDLS
designed three courses:
Core Disaster Life Support
(CDLS) is the equivalent of CPR; it is “for the people.” Designed
for the layperson, this course teaches participants how to prepare for
a natural or man-made disaster, how to know a disaster is coming, and
how to survive the first 72 hours after the crisis, when you are
likely to be awaiting rescue and are responsible for own and your
Basic Disaster Life Support (BDLS) teaches rescue personnel and some health care providers
specifics about treating injuries and other immediate medical
consequences of disasters as well as many of the basic skills of the
CDLS course, so they, too, can keep themselves and their families safe
and avoid distraction as they set about helping others.
Advanced Disaster Life Support
(ADLS) lasts two days and involves participants in live disaster
drills in conjunction with local fire, rescue, and police departments.
Tailored to the community’s needs, the programs may provide
terrorism, hurricane, or tornado drills to train high-level, advanced
providers who are called upon every time there’s a disaster. The
scene is set as if the disaster has already happened, with actors and
mannequins as victims. Participants earn certification as qualified to
run a disaster scene.
Specialized training in the “new CPR” for businesses: Some large
businesses have been doing CPR training in-house for years, so
Business Disaster Life Support
programs have been designed to offer a specialized core Disaster Life Support
course for employees and managers as well as some specialized planning
and contingency issues for the business itself, such as providing a
model for securing the facility in the event of an evacuation. BizDLS, as the program is known, helps organizations answer
important questions such as “When should we stay open and when
should we get the heck out of town?” With this training,
organizations can better integrate into their communities during the
disaster and during the immediate recovery period. Far-sighted
businesses have responded well.
Four hour investment = Life-changing empowerment: Disaster Life Support
training at all levels must become the standard in the U.S. and internationally, just as CPR did in the 1970s and 1980s. The
public must be trained to care for themselves as much as possible, and
every doctor, nurse, paramedic, respiratory therapist, and even
veterinarian must learn basic Disaster Life Support. That way, they can first protect themselves and their families so
they then feel safe, secure, and competent to aid the public in the
event of a disaster. The ultimate goal is to avoid the chaos of
unpreparedness that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and increase
the number of people who are rescued successfully and receive care.
courses are not scary; they are four-hour classes that are fun and
empowering, as you learn to take control in disaster situations. In
fact, every course for the last three years has sold out, around the
country and the world. The training gives you a chance, as CPR courses
did, to walk out and say, “I not only know how to take care of
myself, but I also know how to save lives.” But there’s a
difference: With CPR you can only save one person. With CDLS, you can
learn to save your family, your neighborhood, your business, or even
your entire community.
Read other articles and learn more about
Dr. Maurice Ramirez.
[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis.
Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and