Earthquake response in Chile: A case study in health emergency and disaster risk management




earthquake, disaster, mitigation, preparedness, early warning, response coordination


Chile is one of the most seismically active nations in the world. Due to the frequency of earthquakes, the Chilean government has invested heavily in several earthquake mitigation strategies and is able to boast impressively low numbers of deaths after relatively strong earthquakes. These include earthquake-centered building codes, which help prevent collapses, early detection technologies, early warning systems, public awareness campaigns, and unified command of responding agencies. Disaster risk management is a field in need of more evidence-based recommendations, and taking cues from successful programs such as these is vital to decrease global deaths. There is still room for improvement. Individual frontline responders have sought out further training specific to earthquakes, and the frequency of earthquakes in the country has led to impressive institutional knowledge. However, there needs to be more universal, standardized response training. Additionally, although all responders are brought under one umbrella during a disaster, there is a lack of coordinated training, with most responder training occurring in silos. Further investment in preparedness, and a strong focus on mitigation and prevention of disasters is vital across a number of disasters. Fast onset disasters like earthquakes are especially amenable to mitigation strategies such as those in place in Chile.

Author Biographies

Alexander Hart, MD

Assistant Professor, Hartford Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, Connecticut; Director of Research – BIDMC Disaster Medicine Fellowship, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts

Álvaro Mardones Rodríguez, MD

Clinica Alemana, Emergency Department, Universidad del Desarrollo, Concepción, Chile

José Retamal Carvajal, MD

Clinica Alemana, Emergency Department, Universidad del Desarrollo, Concepción, Chile

Gregory R. Ciottone, MD

Director, BIDMC Disaster Medicine Fellowship, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts


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How to Cite

Hart, MD, A., Álvaro M. Rodríguez, MD, J. R. Carvajal, MD, and G. R. Ciottone, MD. “Earthquake Response in Chile: A Case Study in Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 16, no. 4, Dec. 2021, pp. 313-8, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2021.0413.



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