Earthquake! – Unshakeable Leadership

I wanted to get in touch and thank you so much for the [WRFA] course. Two nights ago, the earthquake struck Nepal, and I was the only person around in my area of Kathmandu with training of any sort. I was able to take the lead, and with the help of my Nepali friend translating, we assisted her 2 sisters, niece, and baby nephew to a safer area. I insisted that we be outside, not hiding under a table, and not where the cooking gas tanks could explode – nor where there were live electrical wires overhead. I was criticized initially for grabbing my first aid kit, water, and a little non-perishable food. (Most people wanted to stay in, and very few actually took the situation seriously. Others surrendered to knowing that there was no available aid, emergency medical, or shelter).

Nobody believed that we shouldn’t stay inside, and that those things might be useful. (!) ¬†However, it wasn’t long before I actually had to demo what we had in the kit, and how to use it. Most of the people around I don’t think had ever seen an emergency kit. Fortunately, no one around was injured, because we all left the buildings. We spent the night in a construction site, under corrugated sheet metal. Aside from what my friend and I grabbed, there was no food, water, toilet… nothing. We also agreed not to eat or drink anything in the first 24 hours, not knowing how long it had to last. The monsoon rains were tremendous; bricks and sandbags were washed out in some places.

While I was in the leader position, I was able to remain calm, delegate tasks and speak clearly, without panic. This helped those around to not be as panicked. ¬†With them seeing the inclusion of everyone in the tasks, we were able to work as a team and keep her family out of danger. We narrowly avoided bandits and a house fire on the same night. It wasn’t until we were relatively safe that it hit me just how close we could’ve been to something much worse. I think that, had it not have been for practicing some scenarios, it would’ve been much more chaotic and difficult to work with. Having the hands-on practice, I believe, made the difference during the earthquake. And when I get back home, I think I’ll keep up on the refreshers!

Thanks again,
Emily Keast

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