256th Meeting – Tuesday, January 18th 2005.
The Tsunami - and its Aftermath
A Panel Discussion with Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sampan Singharajwarapan, Dave Percy and Dr. Sombat Tapanya
Present: Anon Ymous, Alan Adasiak, Hans
Bänziger, Paul Barber-Riley, Mark Bleadon, Bonnie Brereton, Liza
Chris Brigder, John Cadet, Mike & Kay Calavan, Chamnan Chanruang,
Dawson, Brian Doberstyn, Billy Doerner, Lorenz Ferrari, James Fuller,
Gabaude, Miguel Garaizabal, Kate Gunn, Peter K. Hansen, Oliver
Hinchelwood, Reinhard Hohler, June Hulley, Peter Kouwenberg, Peter
Kunstadter, Mike Long, David & Anita Muir, Catherine Nesbit,
Neveu, Thomas Ohlson, Margaret & Michael O’Shea, Aram
Phongchiewboon, Aurathai Phongchiewboon, Atchareeya Saisin, Clarence
Shettlesworth, Jay Slangen, David Steane, Vanvadee Suvatanashau,
Tapaowtong, Celeste Tolibas-Holland, Heidi Tschumi, Pierre Wittman. An
The panel of three speakers talked about the geological aspects of the tsunami and its medical, social and psychological aftermath. These minutes are complied by your convenor, Brian Hubbard. Your convenor writes- This is a summary of the 2-hour plus meeting which, regretfully, falls a long way short of including every detail of the mass of information presented by the panelist, and in the following question and answer session, and fails entirely in conveying the ambience of the atmosphere which prevailed. You had to be there.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sampan Singharajwarapan is from the Department of Geological Sciences, Faculty of Science,
The earthquake was detected by seismic stations
magnitude was initially underestimated. The Richter scale is imprecise
magnitudes of more than 7. A more accurate measurement is given by the
Magnitude Moment, Mw, scale. It seems however that even
reported magnitude was increased to 8.7 on the Richter scale, a tsunami
was not issued because, while tsunamis occur frequently in the Pacific
they are a rare occurrence in the
Dave Percy is a paramedic. He speaks English, Thai and French and upon his arrival in the South, on December 27th, initially acted as an interpreter and assisted medical staff in treating the physical injuries of those who were in the caught in the path of the tsunami. His vivid account of his first impressions when he arrived at a hospital, and then when he first saw the extent of the devastation, was harrowing. After spending some time in the hospital and then seeing the extent of the devastation his thought was – “How did anyone survive this?” Dave soon realised that while immediate needs - for medical treatment, food, clean water, and clothes, where being successfully met, longer term needs where not being addressed. He started putting together what he called Family Packs to distribute to people who where now homeless and destitute. The Family Packs contained 6 bowls and spoons for eating, saucepans and a stove to cook food, a tarpaulin and a 10-metre length of rope to construct a shelter, a mosquito net, a torch, and other basic survival equipment. Each Family Pack cost 1,200 baht to assemble. He then went out and distributed them.
Dave said that from what he saw in the first few days, the response by Thai people and others to the plight of the victims was immediate and overwhelming. Warehouses and storage facilities were full to overflowing with clothes, blankets, and other essentials. He also stressed that the response by the Thai government and local authorities was immediate, well coordinated and effective.
In conclusion Dave said that for as much as being
area and witnessing the devastation and suffering was difficult to come
with, the hardest part for many of the volunteers was leaving.
Dr. Sombat Tapanya is from the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine,
Dr. Sombat said that there are many forms of treatment for post traumatic stress disorder, which would include counselling, different types of psychotherapy, medication, and for some the support of the religious faith, family and friends. These different forms of treatment are not mutually exclusive - the combination, relevance and success of treatment depending on the individual and their symptoms.
Dr. Sombat concluded by saying that with time,
patience, everyone can achieve closure and move on with their life.
After the panelists had made their presentations, the members of the audience, many of whom had first-hand experience of the tsunami disaster and its aftermath, where invited to ask questions and make contributions to the discussion.