Meaningful Distinction:

Patrick S. Lasswell Look outward for something to accomplish, not inward for something to despise.
pslblog at gmail dot com
Sunday, December 28, 2003
Why the Iran Earthquake Death Toll is a Failure of Governance

I'm attending a First Responder (FR) advanced emergency care course these days. One of the instructors was involved in an incident this month where he came across a man laying in the middle of the road. He stopped, called 911, and within one minute he had an ambulance, a fire truck, and three patrol cars. One minute.

He told us about this incident because it was somewhat remarkable for its speed and scope of response, but it also illustrated an important point about the level of coverage in the metropolitan area. Anywhere in urban Portland, within five minutes of calling 911, the standard level of response is three EMT-Paramedics on site and treating the patient.

While we complain about our government, often with good cause; as an entity to serve the populace, it does really quite well. The communications system needed to transfer the emergency messages, the road system to carry the emergency vehicles, the building codes to prevent emergencies, the response coordination, the emergency services training, and the emergency responders are all there either because the government led the way, did the work, or in many instances had the decency to get out of the way of others who lead. Of paramount importance to our national emergency care apparatus is that lives are not wasted because of insufficient response.

Dictators care about power, not people. Regardless of the inane revolutionary mouthing of the chattering class, the fundamental indication of a government for, of, and by the people is their treatment of the people. This summer, more than fifteen thousand people died in France because the labor leadership is stronger than the people they pretend to protect. Mandated short work weeks, onerous overtime rules, and a month of vacation caused systemic failure of their emergency management system and more civilians died needlessly in France than in Iraq since the invasion.

This week in Iran, more than forty thousand people died needlessly because militant Islam does not care how many people it kills in its drive to religious purity. Twenty-five years ago, a quake more than ten times as powerful killed fewer people. Thirteen years ago, fifty thousand people died in an earthquake five to ten times as powerful. Location of the epicenter plays some part, but an institutional indifference for the people of Iran is the real culprit here. The nation is going to be hit by earthquakes, and no fatwah is going to change that. By any reasonable standard, the government of Iran failed its people this week. Again. When will the Mullah's yield power to a government that cares enough about its people to prepare for earthquakes and other emergencies that will come? How many more hundreds of thousands must die so the Mullah's can indulge their addiction to intolerance?
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