Table 1

Literature review for local search and rescue (SAR) after earthquake

Earthquake location (country)Date of eventMagnitude (Mw)*Depth (km)*Estimated death tollEstimated number of people injuredArticleStudy designLocal rescue
Italy23 November 19806.910.0300010 000de Bruycker et al23
  • Retrospective survey

  • 18 months following earthquake

  • Randomly selecting 1 in 3 households from region affected by the earthquake

  • 93.6% of those extricated alive were rescued <24 hours after the earthquake

  • 90% of people were extricated by inhabitants of the same village

  • 18% of the population who had not died helped with rescue work

Armenia07 December 19886.85.425 00019 000Noji et al85
  • Case study

  • Immediately after earthquake

  • Inhabitants of 3 towns affected by earthquake

  • 95% of people extricated who went on to have further medical care were extricated by local inhabitants using their hands or simple tools

  • 89% of those rescued alive from collapsed buildings were extricated <24 hours, as were 93% of those who were trapped and survived

Pretto et al86
  • Structured retrospective interviews

  • Lay bystanders, medical providers, administrators, SAR personnel sampled from 3 different communities, different distances from epicentre

  • 60% of live extrications were performed by relatives/neighbours

  • 15% reported due to military and civil defence arriving within hours

  • 25% not accounted for

Noji et al33
  • Case control study

  • Hospitalised cases from city of Leninakan compared with controls not hospitalised in same neighbourhood

  • 90% rescued by local inhabitants using their hands or simple tools

  • 0.9% (2 people) rescued by international teams

  • Field survey of towns and villages affected

  • Interviews with survivors of earthquake and officials from Ministry of Health

  • 85%–90% of those extricated alive from certain towns, rescued <48 hours after earthquake

  • Usually by untrained local inhabitants.

USA17 October 19896.917.2603800O'Brien and Mileti87
  • Random household survey of residents

  • Conducted in 2 out of 6 affected counties (San Francisco and Santa Cruz)

  • 4.8% (11 500) citizens in Santa Cruz and 2.7% (20 000) in San Francisco engaged in SAR activity post earthquake

Philippines16 July 19907.725.116003000Roces et al4
  • Unmatched case control study

  • At the time of relief activities (1–2 weeks post event)

  • Cases=people dead or alive who sustained injury due to earthquake (identified from hospital records/Department Social Welfare)

  • Controls=uninjured people in same neighbourhood at time of earthquake (uninjured family members of cases or those in refugee centres)

  • 61% of cases were rescued by neighbours

  • 84% of survivors were rescued <1 hour

  • 99% rescued <48 hours

Costa Rica22 April 19917.610.0100500Pretto et al80
  • Retrospective structured interview study

  • Lay bystanders, SAR personnel, medical providers, disaster managers

  • Interviewees selected at random from sampling maps of area denoting locations of highest mortality/greatest building damage

  • Sample size was based on total population affected by earthquake in each particular village (2%–5%)

  • Most rescue efforts and transportation of casualties carried out by survivors themselves

India26 January 20017.716.020 000160 000Roy et al88
  • Structured interviews using community health workers of all patients admitted to hospital immediately after earthquake

  • Within 4 hours of earthquake, local inhabitants had extricated practically all those trapped in collapsed structures

Turkey03 February 20026.55.040300Petal79 89
cited in Petal et al3
  • Reconnaissance study, using retrospective questionnaires

  • 21% of survivors escaped on their own

  • 31% were extricated by people in the same home

  • 48% extricated by neighbours

  • All live rescues were reported to be completed by the time professional responders arrived

Iran26 December 20036.610.040 00030 000Najafi et al90
  • Retrospective questionnaire

  • People hospitalised following earthquake

  • Local and ISAR reportedly arrived at the scene >12 hours

  • Noted to have only minor impact on overall survival

Nia et al24
  • Descriptive study

  • 2 years after earthquake

  • Stratified 2 stage area sampling, to select 211 survivors who had been injured and received medical services

  • Surveyed on their opinions of medical response to earthquake

  • 60.2% rescued by family and relatives

  • 10.9% rescued by local people

  • 0.5% rescued by the Red Crescent

  • 0.5% rescued by military forces

  • 28% unconscious at time of rescue, no recollection of who rescued them

Mirhashemi et al25
  • Cross-sectional study

  • 185 casualties who were hospitalised in first week post earthquake

  • Information from review of medical records and interviews with individuals

  • 89.2% of first responders were relatives and local inhabitants

  • *All earthquake magnitude and depths from USGS available online.

  • ISAR, international SAR; SAR, search and rescue.