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Thursday, July 27, 2006


Beberapa hari setelah gempa di Jogya beredar e-mail yang berisi tips dari Doug Copp, kepala American Rescue Team International Inc. (ARTI), tentang bagaimana menyelamatkan diri pada saat terjadi gempa. Kemudian setelah gempa Pangandaran dan Cilacap terjadi, Metro TV menayangkan beberapa tips Doug Copp yang menurut Metro TV penting (bukan semua tips). ARTI ini adalah sebuah perusahaan swasta, yang tidak berafiliasi dengan pemerintah atau sebuah lembaga. Karena tips dari Doug Copp ini sudah ditayangkan oleh Metro TV maka amat penting untuk mencermatinya dengan melihat apa komentar dari ahli bencana lainnya tentang Doug Copp itu.

Tips yang diberikan Doug Copp kelihatannya masuk akal dan bisa diterapkan. Misalnya berbaring di samping tempat tidur (bukan di bawah tempat tidur) atau merunduk di samping meja ketika gempa terjadi bisa mengurangi resiko terhimpit atau tertindih tempat tidur yang dijatuhi langit-langit kamar. Berbaring di samping tempat tidur mungkin juga tertimpa potongan-potongan langit-langit, namun ada ruang kosong berbentuk segitiga yang tidak terlalu menghimpit orang yang berbaring di sana. Segitiga kosong ini juga terbentuk di samping meja, sofa, lemari dan lain-lain.

Tips dari Doug Copp ini boleh dibilang menentang tips menghadapi gempa yang sudah diterapkan di banyak tempat di seluruh dunia, terutama Jepang yang memang gempa sering terjadi di sana.

Tetapi Rocky Lopes, PhD, Manager, Community Disaster Education, American Red Cross National Headquarters menyatakan bahwa tips Doug Copp ini tidak tepat. Tips Doug Copp tidak bisa diterapkan di Amerika karena standar bangunan berbeda dengan di negeri lain (Turkey). Bahkan Kimberly Shoaf, Public Healt Expert dari UCLA menyebut di Knight Ridder Newspapers, November 2004, bahwa beberapa tips dari Doug Copp bisa membahayakan, seperti keluar dari mobil dan berbaring di sampingnya.

Seperti Doug Copp menyebut sendiri, teorinya ini memang berdasarkan percobaannya membuat gempa buatan pada sebuah sekolah dan rumah dengan menggunakan 20 mannequins di Turkey tahun 1996. 10 mannequins yang menerapkan teori lama "drop, cover and hold on" (yang berlaku dan sudah diterapkan dimana-mana sejak lama) ternyata tidak selamat. Sedangkan 10 mannequins lainnya bisa selamat karena menerapkan teori Doug Copp, "Triangle of Life".

Mantan deputy director of the California Office of Emergency Services, Mark Ghilarducci, bahkan mempertanyakan klaim Doug Copp, bahwa dirinya seorang "disaster expert", karena meragukan.

The Red Cross tetap konsisten dengan tipsnya di . Salah satunya misalnya adalah tetap tinggal di atas tempat tidur ketika gempa terjadi, karena berbaring di lantai di samping tempat tidur lebih memiliki resiko terluka. Tips yang selama ini sudah diterapkan adalah tips yang paling sederhana, andal, dan paling mudah diajarkan, terutama kepada anak-anak.

Meski demikian American Red Cross, sebagai organisasi yang berbasis di Amerika tidak merekomendasikan untuk mengaplikasikan tipsnya di negeri lain. Mengidentifikasi area berbahaya dalam sebuah bangunan atau rumah adalah amat penting bagi semua individu, meski pada saat panik seringkali sulit untuk mengingatnya. Sehingga juga amat penting untuk memiliki tips sendiri yang dibuat oleh organisasi SAR di tiap-tiap kota atau negara.

Jojo Rahardjo

American Red Cross response to "Triangle of Life" by Doug Copp Sent from Rocky Lopes, PhD Manager, Community Disaster Education American Red Cross National Headquarters Recently it has been brought to my attention that an email from Doug Copp, titled "Triangle of Life," is making its rounds again on the Internet. "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" is CORRECT, accurate, and APPROPRIATE for use in the United States for Earthquake safety. Mr. Copp's assertions in his message that everyone is always crushed if they get under something is incorrect.

Recently, the American Red Cross became aware of a challenge to the earthquake safety advice "Drop, Cover, and Hold On." This is according to information from Mr. Doug Copp, the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of American Rescue Team International (a private company not affiliated with the U.S. Government or other agency.) He says that going underneath objects during an earthquake [as in children being told to get under their desks at school] is very dangerous, and fatal should the building collapse in a strong earthquake. He also states that "everyone who gets under a doorway when a building collapses is killed." He further states that "if you are in bed when an earthquake happens, to roll out of bed next to it," and he also says that "If an earthquake happens while you are watching television and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair." These recommendations are inaccurate for application in the United States and inconsistent with information developed through earthquake research. Mr. Copp based his statements on observations of damage to buildings after an earthquake in Turkey. It is like "apples and oranges" to compare building construction standards, techniques, engineering principles, and construction materials between Turkey and the United States.

We at the American Red Cross have studied the research on the topic of earthquake safety for many years. We have benefited from extensive research done by the California Office of Emergency Services, California Seismic Safety Commission, professional and academic research organizations, and emergency management agencies, who have also studied the recommendation to "drop, cover, and hold on!" during the shaking of an earthquake. Personally, I have also benefited from those who preceded me in doing earthquake education in California since the Field Act was passed in 1933.

What the claims made by Mr. Copp of ARTI, Inc., does not seem to distinguish is that the recommendation to "drop, cover, and hold on!" is a U.S.-based recommendation based on U.S. Building Codes and construction standards. Much research in the United States has confirmed that "Drop, Cover, and Hold On!" has saved lives in the United States. Engineering researchers have demonstrated that very few buildings collapse or "pancake" in the U.S. as they might do in other countries. Using a web site to show one picture of one U.S. building that had a partial collapse after a major quake in an area with thousands of buildings that did not collapse during the same quake is inappropriate and misleading.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which collects data on injuries and deaths from all reportable causes in the U.S., as well as data from three University-based studies performed after the Loma Prieta (September, 1989) and Northridge (January, 1994) earthquakes in California, the following data are indicated: Loma Prieta: 63 deaths, approximately 3,700 people were injured. Most injuries happened as a result of the collapse of the Cypress Street section of I-880 in Oakland. Northridge: 57 deaths, 1,500 serious injuries. Most injuries were from falls caused by people trying to get out of their homes, or serious cuts and broken bones when people ran, barefooted, over broken glass (the earthquake happened in the early morning on a federal holiday when many people were still in bed.) There were millions of people in each of these earthquake-affected areas, and of those millions, many of them reported to have "dropped, covered, and held on" during the shaking of the earthquake. We contend that "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" indeed SAVED lives, not killed people. Because the research continues to demonstrate that, in the U.S., "Drop, Cover, and Hold On!" works, the American Red Cross remains behind that recommendation. It is the simplest, reliable, and easiest method to teach people, including children. The American Red Cross has not recommended use of a doorway for earthquake protection for more than a decade. The problem is that many doorways are not built into the structural integrity of a building, and may not offer protection. Also, simply put, doorways are not suitable for more than one person at a time.

The Red Cross, remaining consistent with the information published in "Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages," (visit ) states that if you are in bed when an earthquake happens, remain there. Rolling out of bed may lead to being injured by debris on the floor next to the bed. If you have done a good job of earthquake mitigation (that is, removing pictures or mirrors that could fall on a bed; anchoring tall bedroom furniture to wall studs, and the like), then you are safer to stay in bed rather than roll out of it during the shaking of an earthquake.

Also, the Red Cross strongly advises not try to move (that is, escape) during the shaking of an earthquake. The more and the longer distance that someone tries to move, the more likely they are to become injured by falling or flying debris, or by tripping, falling, or getting cut by damaged floors, walls, and items in the path of escape. Identifying potential "void areas" and planning on using them for earthquake protection is more difficult to teach, and hard to remember for people who are not educated in earthquake engineering principles. The Red Cross is not saying that identifying potential voids is wrong or inappropriate. What we are saying is that "Drop, Cover, and Hold On!" is NOT wrong -- in the United States. The American Red Cross, being a U.S.-based organization, does not extend its recommendations to apply in other countries. What works here may not work elsewhere, so there is no dispute that the "void identification method" or the "Triangle of Life" may indeed be the best thing to teach in other countries where the risk of building collapse, even in moderate earthquakes, is great.

'Triangle of Life' Earthquake Survival Measures

Netlore Archive: Doug Copp's emailed advice on earthquake survival tactics entitled 'Triangle of Life' is disputed by search-and-rescue experts from the American Red Cross and elsewhere

Description: Email flier Circulating since: Aug. 2004 (this version) Status: Inaccurate Analysis: See below

Email example contributed by Marc G., 25 August 2004: EXTRACT FROM DOUG COPP'S ARTICLE ON THE "TRIANGLE OF LIFE", Edited by Larry Linn for MAA Safety Committee brief on 4/13/04.

My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world's most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake.

I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries. I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation (UNX051 -UNIENET) for two years. I have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.

In 1996 we made a film which proved my survival methodology to be correct. The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul, University of Istanbul, Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical, scientific test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten mannequins did "duck and cover," and ten mannequins I used in my "triangle of life" survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results. The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions, relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover. There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my method of the "triangle of life." This film has been seen by millions of viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe, and it was seen in the USA, Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV.

The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under their desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene, unnecessary and I wondered why the children were not in the aisles. I didn't at the time know that the children were told to hide under something.

Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the "triangle of life". The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the "triangles" you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building. They are everywhere. I trained the Fire Department of Trujillo (population 750,000) in how to survive, take care of their families, and to rescue others in earthquakes.

The chief of rescue in the Trujillo Fire Department is a professor at Trujillo University. He accompanied me everywhere. He gave personal testimony: "My name is Roberto Rosales. I am Chief of Rescue in Trujillo. When I was 11 years old, I was trapped inside of a collapsed building. My entrapment occurred during the earthquake of 1972 that killed 70,000 people. I survived in the "triangle of life" that existed next to my brother's motorcycle. My friends who got under the bed and under desks were crushed to death [he gives more details, names, addresses etc.]...I am the living example of the "triangle of life". My dead friends are the example of "duck and cover".


1) Everyone who simply "ducks and covers" WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE is crushed to death -- Every time, without exception. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are always crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies all naturally often curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. The reason is simple: the wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room, telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens while you are watching television and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Everybody who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different "moment of frequency" (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads. They are horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by screaming, fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible - It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked;

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles, says the author. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

Comments: The American Red Cross took the unusual step of contacting me directly to refute the above text, which a representative of the group politely characterized as "incorrect."

According to Red Cross community disaster education manager Ricky Lopes, author Doug Copp's earthquake survival suggestions don't apply in the United States because they're based on observations made in Turkey, where engineering and construction standards are different. "Much research in the United States has confirmed that 'Drop, Cover, and Hold On!' has saved lives in the United States," writes Lopes. "Engineering researchers have demonstrated that very few buildings collapse or 'pancake' in the U.S. as they might do in other countries."

Other experts concur, even to the point of suggesting that some of Copp's advice could endanger people's lives rather than save them. "Some of the things he recommends are absolutely dangerous, like getting out of your car and lying down next to the car," UCLA public health expert Kimberley Shoaf told Knight Ridder Newspapers in November 2004. A former deputy director of the California Office of Emergency Services, Mark Ghilarducci, agreed that "duck, cover and hold on" remains the best overall strategy for survival during an earthquake.

I should also point out that although Mr. Copp has proclaimed himself a disaster expert, his credentials are in question.