Talk About It
Disaster Action: How You Fit In
When there is a disaster, whether it be natural or man-made, do you ask yourself what you can do as you watch the 24 hour news cycle? There are many options available to all of us to become a part of the response and recovery.
Organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army take donations of clothes and money to support those displaced by the disaster. Many individuals donate blood for the victims fighting for their lives at area hospitals. Government at all levels has first responders providing search and rescue operations to save lives. However, there is a unique contribution that an architect can make in such a situation and the newly-formed AIA Dallas Disaster Action Committee is dedicated to preparing our members to fill that role.
Although first responders provide search and rescue operations that many architects will not be able to participate in, there is a stage in the process where architects play a vital role – the recovery stage. Much of the destruction that occurs can be widespread and overwhelming for the local building officials to handle by themselves in a short timeframe. Lack of support to complete safety assessments often delays the return of displaced residents to their homes. Due to the nature of disasters more common to Texas, a comprehensive assessment is required (not just structural). This creates an opportunity for architects to assist as volunteer second responders.
Before second responders are allowed on a disaster site, they must complete required training and obtain certain credentials. The AIA Dallas Disaster Action Committee hosts seminars to cover the response to the explosion in West and the recent tornadoes in north Texas and central Oklahoma, as well as a session to help credential architects to perform as second responders.