Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti Survivors: Human Durability and Staying Calm

"Haiti's survival stories no shock to experts"
CNN (January 21, 2010)

"The fact that survivors have been unearthed more than a week after being entombed without food or water in quake-stricken Haiti is no surprise and simply underscores the body's resilience in the face of adversity, emergency medicine experts told CNN Wednesday.

" 'You can go 10, 12, 13 days without really having a problem,' said Dr. Eric Weinstein, an emergency physician in Summerville, South Carolina, who is on the Disaster Preparedness and Response Committee of the American College of Emergency Physicians. 'Particularly if you're healthy to begin with.'

"Weinstein's comments came hours after a 5-year-old boy, Monley, was pulled alive from rubble nearly eight days after the 7.0-magnitude quake had leveled much of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. More than 121 people have been pulled alive from the rubble, the United Nations said Wednesday...."

There's more - like why it's not a good idea to dump a lot of water into someone who's dehydrated, and some of the mechanisms the body uses to keep the heart and brain running when supplies get short.

In an abstract way, it's fascinating stuff - for me, anyway - and helps explain how people are able to last for a week, after a building's been dropped on them.

If that happens, by the way, some implied advice from the article: don't panic.

Easy to say, isn't it?

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