Emergency care in Chile post-2010 earthquake


The work of “Atención de Urgencia en Chile post sismo 2010” constitutes a community-based approach to risk management. It was implemented in a beneficiary population of 165,000 inhabitants in the city of Rancagua de Chile, after an earthquake in 2010.

The project studied the demand cycle of the population benefiting from health services, with respect to:

  • Quantification of demand in a beneficiary population of 165,000 inhabitants
  • Types of pathological conditions demanded in each earthquake
  • Experiences of the Rancagua de Chile population’s reaction to international aid, in relation to the response capacity of the public health system

Before, during and after adverse events, the relationship with the community is essential; in the 2010 event in Chile, the aim was to demonstrate the way in which the link between the community and a public service, such as Public Health, is generated.

During the organisation of the Emergency Hospital the following activities were implemented:

  • Initial and daily study of the effects on public health and epidemiological profile
  • Installation of an Emergency Hospital for Care, together with the nearby town
  • Recognition of Institutional Authorities and Community Leaders:
    • Neighbouring: Neighbourhood Council Chairs and Informal Leaders
    • Health: Service Director, Deputy Directors of Assistance, Logistics and Human Resources.
    • Community: Mayor, Municipal Heads of Social Development.
  • Implementation of activities with the community:
    • Diagnostic care and health recovery
    • Maintenance of the service area
    • Basic maintenance services: food, water, cleanliness and others related to health services
    • Leisure and recreation areas
    • Liaison with solidarity institutions: Lions Club, Rotary Club, Armed Forces, Fire Department, and other public safety organisations
    • Integrate the Public Health Network, under legal, administrative and statistical conditions
    • Support the work of the Public Health Network: Reduction in Waiting Lists
    • Communication of the developed health and community experience

This initiative was funded by:

  • Cuban government: Human Resources (21 to 36 professionals and health technicians), transfers in 2 aircraft, Operation and Maintenance Logistics during the first month, diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical equipment.
  • O’Higgins Public Health Service: Legal advice, supplies, premises, basic services, equipment maintenance, statistics and joint work with health professionals and technicians.
  • Municipality: Food, communication, international family links, protection due to seasonal variations.
  • Neighbourhood and Community Organisations: Labour for maintenance and social relations.

The networks we worked with were:

  • Cuban government: Central Government, Cuban Embassy.
  • Chilean government: Churches of Chile.
  • Social Communication
  • Army and Fire Department.
  • Friends and Researchers.
  • Volunteer doctors from various countries trained at the Latin American School of Cuba

The project ended in November 2010.


The community was integrated into the health process, where the Health Service and the Municipality were in charge of the coordination, follow-up and logistical support of the Emergency Hospital.
The most marginalised and at-risk groups were identified and integrated into the work to generate healthy lifestyles and offer care.
The community was integrated into spaces for participation and recreation, and met their health care needs.


The community groups were assimilated by the Health Centres, which are evolving into community and family management.
It was an opportunity for the community to learn how to integrate the Health Centres, to readapt to the local risk conditions and to feel part of the organisation process.


The community's demand cycle in risk situations became self-evident.