UK Disaster Expert Tutors on Decision-Making

Emergency services staff are trained in how to deal with the initial stages of a disaster on the ground. The subsequent hours of decision-making in the strategic and tactical management of catastrophes that erupt out of nowhere, however, can directly impact the scale of a tragedy. That’s according to David Whitmore, a paramedic who is now senior clinical adviser to the medical director at the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

In an article on the UK Guardian website, Louise Tickle writes that Whitmore has worked on over 20 such incidents, including the IRA bombing of Chelsea Barracks in 1981, rail crashes, fires and civil disturbances. According to the article he is now a tutor on a new distance-learning MSc in health incident command at Manchester Metropolitan University. The course is geared to people in the health services who, during their careers, are sure to find themselves in ultimate charge of decisions that affect how many people live and how many die.

Whitmore said emergency services staff must make on-the-spot decisions about when to step in, what to do when you start losing ambulance staff, where to put command and control points and ambulances, and whether to call air/sea rescue in rural areas.

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