Impact of experience with smaller-scale or personal emergencies in building trust in first responders during major disasters


Those participants who had no disaster experience themselves explained how they draw their trust from positive experiences in smaller-scale or personal emergencies, e.g. life-threatening health incidents, or mass accidents on motorways: “When I was a child, I was stuck on the motorway due to a severe accident. The Civil Protection arrived and brought us bottled water. It was summertime, and we had been there for six hours” (G4-P2). Additionally, some participants outlined the emotional help received: “My partner and I were in Amatrice the day after the earthquake […] to pick up her grandparents and the daughter of some friends. Civil Protection made us feel welcome and helped us, managing the panic and helping us to find the child we were looking for. They solved a dangerous and fearful situation. I felt like being in the movie ‘Titanic’, with many people looking for help, feeling lost, looking for relatives and friends, but also seeking for random help. It was a strong and deep experience” (G6-P2). “During the L’Aquila earthquake [April 2000], the mother of my ex-boss was trapped under the debris her neighbour’s house. She was saved by fire fighters, as she was completely buried […] Three officers worked as if they were twenty of them, and they helped her physically and emotionally” (G6-P8).

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