Better Together: Evolving Social Process between Bystanders and First Responders is a Force Multiplier for Effective Emergency Response

*Corresponding author: Carmit Rapaport* and Isaac Ashkenazi

Abstract

Bystanders are an integral part of an emergency scene. Their presence on site makes them the immediate potential responders, who can provide life-saving assistance as well as various rescue actions. Research has shown that bystanders are willing to and are capable of helping, especially (but not limited to) when a leader emerges, as the help is rooted in a collective action. In this article, we suggest a new framework for understanding the effectiveness of bystanders help, based on the evolving social process between bystanders and first responders. As we show, the transition from no help, at the very first moment right after the emergency has occurred, to an effective coordinated response where first responders and bystanders act together, goes through engagement of bystanders. Further, first responders should acknowledge the social organization of bystanders, utilize and leverage it in order to optimize their efforts. This framework has important insights for policy makers when managing emergency and disaster situations with limited resources.

Keywords

Bystanders; First responders; Mass casualty incident; Help; Emergency; Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).