Haiti earthquake is one of the biggest natural disasters in the recent years. Just like with all other disasters, the world was willing to help instantly. Willing, but not ready. Americans are opening their hearts and pockets, doctors and rescue teams are flying from all four corners on the universe, but they can only save that many people. Why? Because the efforts are not coordinated. Year after year we are facing similar situations and every time the word reacts with a chaotic response in the first days and weeks, that gives way to organized response after it is already too late.
This situation begs the question- why there is no central disaster command under the UN supervision that sits idle 364 days a year, and get into action the second when a disaster strikes?This organization can look at dozens disasters and create decision trees for every situation. It can agree with all major armies, rescue team and other relevant organizations on responses types, coordination, command and control etc. It can also have a line of credit of say, 100M dollars that can used on a minute notice because we all know that the money comes in from governments and individuals and can easily cover for any reasonable loan taken.
All this organization needs is a skeletal team and large reserve force, that will come to help in time of crises. I am sure that hundreds of ex military or rescue employees will be happy to join, get trained and be on the ready to man the command center or run operations on the ground.
The other thing this organization will do is learn from mistakes and improve, something that does not happen now since the efforts are not coordinated and not owned by any one organization.
There are 5 critical days in natural disasters and 1000s can be saved with the right response during these days. My brother-in-law participated in the search and rescue efforts in Mexico city at 1985. By the time he and his team made it to the city, they could only help removing bodies from the ruins, despite their superior training and equipment. They were too late and were not deployed to the right places.
So why the UN has no organization like this? I really don’t know. Perhaps it is not sexy, perhaps it is not an organization that its success can be measured, but I am certain that it can save many lives when the next big one strikes.