Original Article

Problems Encountered by Volunteers Assisting the Relief Efforts in Van, Turkey and the Surrounding Earthquake Area


  • Tarık Ocak
  • Arif Duran
  • Taşkın Özdeş
  • Cüneyt Hocagil
  • Abdulkadir Küçükbayrak

Received Date: 31.01.2013 Accepted Date: 20.02.2013 Eurasian J Emerg Med 2013;12(2):66-70


In this study, we aimed to identify the difficulties encountered by the health teams and personnel working as volunteers or on assignment in the earthquake area, and to identify their experiences and recommendations regarding the disaster.

Material and Methods:

This study was conducted in October and November 2011 in Van, Turkey and the surrounding region with individuals, mainly health personnel, who arrived in the city as volunteers or on assignment to assist the relief efforts. The study was conducted as these individuals carried out their duties. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with volunteers and personnel who agreed to complete the questionnaires as required.


A total of 168 persons were included in the study. The mean age of these individuals was calculated as 31±8 (age range 17 to 56). Of the participants, 74 (44%) arrived in the city or the surrounding area as part of their official assignment, and 94 (56%) arrived as volunteers. During the study, 77 (46%) of the individuals experienced a health problem on at least one occasion. A job definition could be identified for 74% of the participants.


The job definitions and required materials should be pre-determined and work hours rotated according to a shift system. We believe that this would allow relief efforts to be conducted more effectively.

Keywords: Earthquake, volunteer, needs, disaster area, job definition