Doug Copp has been approached, to write a book, many times, over the years. It was not to be. Everytime a book was started a major disaster occurred and the doug went off to save lives. The book kept getting dropped and delayed until 911.
Doug became so injured that he could not speak and had lost all of his memory. The toxins , from under the 911 rubble filled his brain. After 9 years of God’s Blessing, determination and medical treatment doug has recovered greatly; however, he still has cognitive and memory deficiencies from his zenith, prior to 911.
Here is another draft from one of the book attempts:
Life is For Living
by Douglas Copp
This book is not just a story about search and rescue or my experiences as the leading search and rescue expert in the world. This book is a story of adventure. Climbing mountains, crossing deserts, working in the Amazon jungle and world travel have become routine to me. Through these adventures, I have faced life, death, horror, anguish, suffering, and the joy of saving lives.
The incident that gave this old warrior a blackout for ten years would send shudders down the neck of the average person. Envision crawling through a crushed maternity ward surrounded by the splattered and smashed remains of newborns… crawling, sliding and inching towards the wailing of a single surviving newborn, all the while suppressing the overwhelming desire to escape or flee from the horror, but sticking it out until the crying baby was brought to safety. These are the stories to be told from disasters that can only be categorized as possibly the world’s most violent outbursts of natural energy.
The story of what goes on behind the scenes provides an unexpected but essential part of the story. Major disasters not only attract rescuers but also a wide variety of other interesting characters and participants. I have met seven presidents and more generals, admirals, federal ministers that I can even recount. I have acquired hundreds of diplomatic letters of appreciation and acknowledgment from around the world. I have flown on Peruvian Air Force One, Russian and United Nations helicopters. I have helped build roads to a collapsed gold mine in the Peruvian Andes.
Life has been a whirlwind of adventure. On several occasions I actually prayed to be bored, nevertheless I can honestly say that I have never been bored for even five minutes in the last thirteen years. My story will tell you why.
After every disaster I go to the local place of worship whether a mosque, church, synagogue or temple. Each is the same to me because in each I feel the same guiding hand. This has allowed me to find the strength, courage and inspiration to maintain my sanity, to the degree I have, in the midst of thousands who have lost theirs.
I am a survivor of at least fifteen hundred life threatening situations. My nickname, or rescue name, given to me is La Cucaracha, the survivor. The vice president of underwriting at Hartford Life Insurance informed me in 1989 that as far as the insurance company was concerned I had already approached the actuarial certitude of death.
I have faced death. During rescues, there have been at least three occasions when my own skills were exceeded and I expected to die at that instant. Instead I asked God to save me and miracles resulted. I have personally witnessed events that I had always considered the result of imagination and that I never would have believed possible before. Seeing is truly believing. One of the results of my many years of dancing with death is an appreciation that life is for living – now.
Some of the more interesting characters that flock to disasters are members of the various intelligence organizations. They arrive at the major disasters to gather data on how efficiently, effectively and rapidly the country responds to the disaster. They relate this capability to the country’s effectiveness in time of war.
I have had extremely interesting conversations with the KGB, many adventures with the CIA, been the best man at a Cuban Secret Agent’s wedding and spent twenty-four hours a day for two weeks in the company of a Turkish intelligence officer and several soldiers with machine guns.
Very few people are aware that the previous occupation of the chief operations officer for FEMA at the Oklahoma City Bombing was running covert intelligence operations for the CIA during natural foreign disasters. The CIA was very upset with the individual who discovered and exposed their covert military/intelligence activities under the guise of disaster relief to four hundred and fifty United Nation’s Diplomats.
I saw with my own eyes US troops flying into the Earthquake in El Salvador (1986) on disaster relief planes; then being transported by orange school buses with blackened windows to the US Embassy Compound. I witnessed, along with another ARTI (American Rescue Team International) team member, where these troops were later going into battle with full combat gear and camouflage.
All of this happened when a truce had been declared between the warring factions in El Salvador because of the Earthquake and the US congress had prohibited American troops from going to El Salvador. This was part of Ronald Reagan and Olie North’s personal ‘goodwill games’.
I would later run into the same American activities following Hurricane Gilberto in 1989 and in the Earthquake in Costa Rica in 1991. It is interesting to note that the US compound in Belize has two square blocks of fenced area with a huge billboard sign indicating US Aid Office and yet not a single US Aid Officer was to be found within the two square blocks; only CIA officers processing intelligence data for their Central American main headquarters in Costa Rica.
People might be surprised to know that one of the easiest parts of saving lives is the actual rescue. Politics, jurisdiction and other selfish, egotistical interests are the number one obstacle to saving lives at major disasters. My experiences have been bizarre, unusual, unexpected and shocking not only to myself, but certainly, to the average reader.
It would be hard for an individual to imagine sitting in a room with an Ambassador from South America and listening to the Ambassador thank me for offering to help his people at a time when thirty thousand lives were at stake. A vast landslide made thirty thousand people disappear. How many were dead and how many could be rescued was a matter of conjecture.
However, the fate of these thirty thousand individuals was sealed with the mark of death when the Ambassador informed me that no rescue would be taking place. The oil pipeline distribution system was damaged; the actual loss to the country was around one billion dollars. His government had planned to tell the World Bank that the loss was ten billion dollars. This way they could avoid paying their World Bank loan that year and political corruption could pocket the money.
He said they would not be allowing any international rescuers, national rescuers, local rescuers or any international observers into the area to report on the nine billion dollars discrepancy. Hence, thousands of people had their chance of life taken away from them. They were sentenced to death. After having many similar experiences I came to the conclusion, years ago, that life can be tough.
Good and Evil
Many people are drawn to other’s experiencing suffering and need. The forces of good and evil literally rush into a major disaster, like moths to a candle or the sea crashing in to fill the void after Moses parted the waves.
Can you imagine the combined scream of thousands of victims being crushed to death at the same time or the shrill in the air of lungs smashed as buildings collapse? Imagine hundreds of people standing erect like abandoned, lifeless statues just staring into space in utter and complete shock for days on end. Not moving a hand or a foot. Just staring into space until each drops dead. ? echo “$fontend”; ?>
Minions of the forces of darkness come to major disasters to delight and revel in this suffering. Evil actually does exist in this world. I have seen it and felt it. But the forces of light, openness and good never completely abandon us. At all times we are in the midst of both.
On Easter Sunday, 1992, at the Catholic Church, Our Lady of the Pillar, in Half Moon Bay, California, I had been invited by the priest to say a few words to the congregation to thank them for their kindness.
I had just returned from a training mission throughout Mexico, where I was part of a team driving a mobile rescue school from village to village. These villages were in isolated areas and normally received little attention from the outside world. At each village, we would train the Red Cross and firefighters. Months before the congregation in Half Moon Bay had passed the plate for us. The amount collected was merely a couple of hundred dollars but yet it was extremely helpful.
(Photo Available: Relief Supplies in Mexico)
As I approached the podium, I was very apprehensive to tell the following story. I don’t know whether my apprehension was because of my scientific mind or my fear of being ridiculed or charged with blasphemy in the church.1 But I thought why not take a chance. God was on my side. I stood at the pulpit thanking the congregation for their generosity. I told the story of a building and a miracle that happened to me during the Earthquake in El Salvador, September 1986.
Seeing is Believing
As I spoke to the congregation, I described a terrible image. A city was destroyed. Only four remaining buildings still had electricity: the Presidential Compound, two luxury hotels and the US embassy/military compound. The darkness was complete. For the first time in my life I realized how much the lights of a city brighten up the sky, even from miles away. I saw how dark darkness can be when there is no light for a hundred miles. This was the story of the darkest night of my life.
I was with a group of Salvadorian Green Cross Members, a guerrilla rescue team.2 We were working through the night searching collapsed buildings. An ABC TV film crew accompanied us. The cameraman filmed me as I entered the side of the collapsed building. The footage was later seen on ABC’s World News Tonight and Good Morning America. What the millions of people who saw the footage never saw was what happened on the inside of the collapsed building. That is what I wanted to tell the congregation. What happened on the inside.
(Photo Available: Photo Going Into Collapsed Building)
The building was extremely dangerous. The first three floors were squashed into a four-foot high pile of rubble. Part of the wall had fallen away on the fourth floor, which was now the ground floor. The three floors of building above the fourth floor were still upright, and were being supported by wooden shelving. The wooden shelving around the perimeter of the fourth floor, that had held auto supplies, was now leaning at an angle. Since the structural supports of this building were all broken, this tilted shelving was now holding up tons of concrete.
I slid over the middle shelf, through the hole in the wall and entered the building. The building was so dangerous that members of the Swiss Rescue team had, ten minutes earlier, deserted the area. Since they were afraid to go into the building, I went in by myself.
As I looked around, the floor reminded me of the ribbon candy I had when I was a child. None of it was flat. What remained of the floor was broken, cracked and in waves. About ten feet inside of the building, which now had a ceiling five feet high, was a large teardrop shaped opening in the floor. Inside of this opening was the head and torso of a dead woman. As I stood above her and looked at her, it seemed to me that I was looking at her as if she was lying in a coffin. I decided to search the rest of the building for victims.
Deep inside of the building I was in a heightened state of awareness. I knew, in the back of my mind, that aftershocks were occurring and it would not take much of an aftershock for me to be instantly crushed to death. This was the worst place that I could ever be, so I decided to search for victims as quickly as possible; not wasting a second.
(Photo Available: Inside Collapsed Building)
I went deep inside this abyss nd decided that I would use my Life Locating Device to check for live victims. After using the device there would be three possibilities. First possibility: there is no victim in the immediate area, consequently I can escape immediately. Second possibility: there are only dead victims and it is not a matter of life or death, so I can use the safest means to recover their bodies for their families. The third possibility is that there are live victims in the immediate area; in this case caution is thrown to the wind because they must be rescued before the building totally collapses. The building was very fragile and in a precarious state. It was ready to pancake in an instant. I was hoping I could get out. I wanted to get out.
I was holding a seven cell ‘Mag’ light. A ‘Mag’ light has a solid tubular steel case and is supposed to be indestructible. Normally, I would use a rock or a hammer to tap the rubble in a distinguishable pattern of three hits… pause, followed by three more hits… pause. Victims who hear this loud signal can usually reply faintly or feebly a repeat pattern. The Life Locating Device seismically detects and indicates their exact location.
Thinking the ‘Mag’ light indestructible, (as advertised) I raised it in my hand and hit it against the concrete to make the signal. When it struck the concrete the light extinguished and I was instantly in complete darkness. This “indestructible” flashlight was now broken. The filament inside the bulb had failed and was the limiting factor. I could not move. It was so dark I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. It was so dangerous that I didn’t dare shift my feet as the remaining three floors of concrete would crash down upon me, squashing me. I couldn’t move.
I lifted my head and leaned back as far as I could toward heaven above and said, “Lord please help me!” All of a sudden everything lit up florescent, transparent, green and blue. I could see everything without any effort. I moved across the broken floor through the building and went to the opening. I slid across the middle wooden shelf to freedom and safety.
Two years after the incident, I recounted this story to a medical scientist. He told me that my will to survive was so strong that my brain had reconstituted the “sense-data-reports” or snapshot images collected from my initial entry into the building. He said my brain reordered or reversed these images and that allowed me to escape from certain death.
So I stood on that pulpit and told the church congregation the entire story of what had happened to me and what the scientist had said. I ended my story by telling the congregation, “I have a different interpretation (from the medical scientist).” Then I simply stepped down from the pulpit and went back to my pew to sit next to my wife.
Afterwards, I did not know what to expect. My stomach was somewhat in knots and my head was lowered. I thought the congregation would either ridicule me for being insane or think that I was being blasphemous in the church on Easter Sunday. I was very apprehensive. All of these thoughts went though my mind in an instant.
Something unexpected happened. The priest, who was a stocky, jovial man, in flowing white robes, seemed to fly down from the pulpit and stood next to me. He arched his back, tilted his whole torso up to heaven as his white robes flared, and with outstretched arms shouted to the congregation, in a voice as loud as he could muster, “See… See… All things are possible with GOD” The congregation, every man, women and child, rose to their feet in unison, clapped their hands and cheered.
I had never seen such an unrestrained outburst at any time in my life and this was happening in church on Easter Sunday. I was happy that I could finally tell my story and that other people could believe in God’s work. This was quite a change from my days at the University studying graduate courses in philosophy and considering myself to be an atheist.
The Other Part of the Story
I had only told the congregation part of the story. This will be the first time I have ever publicly related the events that occurred after I crawled outside from that collapsed building.
After I left the collapsed building, I went for a walk by myself. (I needed to take a few minutes to relax following this harrowing experience.) What happened next was absolutely incredible. I was to experience first hand something, which I never before believed to exist. An experience which I would have thought childish nonsense, but now my eyes were about to be opened, and I would be left with an expanded understanding of the world in which I live. My perception of reality would be forever changed.
As I walked down the street from that collapsed building I was surrounded by devastation on all sides. All the buildings were destroyed. As I have told you, it was very dark. Two blocks away I approached a shopping center.
(Photo Available: Shopping Center)
This was a different shopping center than what might come to your mind. This shopping center was a heap of rubble, with a couple of hundred dead people inside. I was approaching the end of the shopping center where some of the rubble had spread across the sidewalk into the street. There I saw a shadow.
From this night, the darkest night I had ever experienced, it seemed not possible but I saw a shadow. A three dimensional shadow, shaped in the form of a human. I became alert. I felt a surge of energy inside of me. I felt threatened.
Not threatened in the sense that you might feel when attacked by a Doberman Pincher but the alertness as if you were to come upon a Rottweiler, not knowing if he was going to attack or lick your hand or run away. I guess a better way to put it, is I was startled. Like if you were going around a corner and someone else was coming towards you around that corner and you never expected anyone to be there at that same instant, but you run into each other.
This darkened form was leaning over the rubble of this collapsed shopping center. It seemed to be like an insect sucking blood from a victim. I continued to approach it.
Without moving the rest of it’s body it turned it’s head and shoulders to face me and stare me in the eyes. It’s eyes seemed to go on for infinity. They were so dark, so black. It’s eyes were cold, with no remorse. It’s eyes were like a black hole, inside of a shadow in the night. How can I describe it to you? It’s body was like a shadow inside a shadow. I didn’t flinch but instead looked straight back and stared into it’s eyes. At that instant I felt like it was communicating to me telepathically. I understood it to say, “I have come for you, I am taking you”.
I felt a surge of strength or energy like I have never felt before or since in my life. My whole body was taunt. I stepped forward with my left foot firmly placed on the ground. I lifted my right arm with a clinched fist, my muscles were throbbing. I shoved my fist in it’s face and at the top of my voice as my eyes pierced inside of his, I shouted: “Fuck You! You’re NOT taking me. Go fuck yourself! ” At that instant it’s eyes collapsed and it rotated it’s head downward towards the building it had been sucking the life out of, and in a flash, disappeared.
The forces of good and evil come to major disasters on all levels of life and reality. I believe that I caught the ‘Angel of Death’ or ‘Grim Reaper’ savoring in a delight of two hundred victims. What a bonanza for him – two hundred all at once. In one place, at one time, and surrounding him were thousands of souls no longer of this world.
In my life and in the fifteen hundred times I have faced my own death, I do not like to think of myself as a hero. But at that instant of time, when that ‘Angel of Death’ or ‘Grim Reaper’ showed himself to me, I do think upon it with some degree of satisfaction and bewilderment. I think, perhaps, I do have some courage.
Reflecting upon it now I wonder how I will feel when the Grim Reaper comes for me the next time and actually does take me away. In some sense I am living on borrowed time and I hope I use the time wisely. Death ultimately gets us all; we can only hope to escape on a temporary basis.
Dougisms: As Told by Another ARTI Member
Dougisms, named by ARTI member Mary Reigel, are truisms or philosophical truths that are at the same time usually philosophically profound, bizarre and very funny. Mary tells some of these stories and Doug narrates others.
“I didn’t know that clothes were alive.”
The brief explanation is that after Doug had spent nine days standing on top of a collapsed shopping center filled with a couple of hundred decomposing corpses that were cooking in the tropics, the methane gas was so strong it dissolved the fibers in his heavy canvas clothing. Doug’s clothing crumbled in his hands. Holding the crumbled material in his hand, he heard himself say, “I didn’t know that clothes were alive.” Doug had an instantaneous realization that cotton was a plant, even though it was now a shirt, it was still part of a living thing and from such intensive exposure to death, his shirt died. This still amazes Doug and you can hear him say occasionally, “I didn’t know that clothes were alive” when some insight triggers his memory.
(Photo Available: Doug wearing his shirt)
“Don’t Eat the Chicken after a hurricane.”
Following Hurricane Gilberto, Doug was driving through Mexico on his way back to San Francisco, in his standard transmission Audi 5000. Hurricane Gilberto was the most powerful hurricane of modern times with two hundred and twenty mile an hour sustained winds, gust to three hundred miles an hour, causing the entire east coast of Mexico, over a three thousand mile area to be destroyed.
Doug’s passenger was an interesting character. He was part Chinese, Black, Indian and Spanish. He practiced white magic and was a Belizian wood carver. The most important thing is that he could not drive.
Doug had been wet in contaminated water for a month and a half. He had several infections on his legs and feet. Ten large blood blisters the size of silver dollars with pussheads the size of dimes on his legs and one positioned on the bottom of his left foot. His feet were so swollen that even without socks and his shoes stretched open; he could not get them on his feet. Doug had to drive four thousand miles like this.
(Photo Available: Hurricane Gilberto)
Every time Doug pushed on the clutch pedal he felt like screaming in agony. Doug was in a very bad mood and was not pleased that the passenger could not drive. Doug’s sense of humor was very limited.
All along the entire route through the devastated areas of Mexico, were stand after stand after stand of women barbecuing chicken over hot coals. Doug and his passenger were both hungry. However, Doug would say nothing because he was in pain.
The wood carver would plead “Let’s Stop for fry chicken!” Doug would reply “NO, you do not want any fry chicken!” The next stand would go by, the wood carver would say “I want some fry chicken!” Doug would reply “NO, you do not want any fry chicken!”
This went on four or five times. Doug who’d previously informed the wood carver that he should simply listen to what Doug had to say because Doug was the old dog of disasters and Doug was in too bad of a mood to be elaborating to the wood carver. Doug finally said “Okay.”
They stopped at the next “Fry Chicken stand.” The wood carver walked across the road and bought a fry chicken. Doug waited in the car, when the wood carver returned he offered Doug some chicken. Doug replied, “no thank you.”
The wood carver started to eat. After a few minutes Doug asked the wood carver “Does the chicken taste different?” The wood carver replied ” Yes, kind of.” Doug said, “that is because the hurricane killed all (of) the chickens two weeks ago. There is no refrigeration and all the women are frying their chickens, waiting for a sucker to come by who will buy their dead, rotten chicken!”
The wood carver spit the chicken out of his mouth, stuck his head out of the window and shoved his finger down his throat. He never questioned Doug again!
(When the scene got tough on the Peruvian disaster relief mission February 1998, Doug told me to do exactly what he said to do and not bother to question him, and I followed his directions. Later he told me the “Don’t Eat the Chicken after a hurricane” story.)
“Just because the road appears to be there doesn’t mean it really is.”
In the middle of the night, Doug was driving with a carload of Costa Ricans from a giant landslide, which the British and Swiss teams had refused to work, stating that it was two dangerous and too complicated. Doug and his buddies had just finished doing this impossible work and were on their way to stop a severely cracked dam from bursting and destroying a town.
The damage was caused by an Earthquake and they were rushing to repair it before it burst. They were driving eighty miles an hour in complete darkness on a lonely country road. Their lights were on high beam and they could see the white lines down the center of the road. They appeared to be unbroken as far as they could see.
All of sudden they found themselves traveling eighty miles an hour, ten feet high in the air. The earthquake had cut straight across the highway and dropped the highway ten feet. But from their perspective, the white line still lined up. They could not tell that the highway was damaged until they were flying.
They were in the air long enough to talk to each other. Doug remembers saying “Holy Shit… what happened to the road?” and he said to the driver “I hope you have your pilot’s license!”
They hit the road and bounced several times in the air and never even slowed down. They continued racing to the dam, however, Doug told me he was concentrating very strongly on the road ahead and was glad that he had such a good driver. “I had a lot of adventures with this guy.” …more stories to come.
(I have learned not to make too many assumptions about things. The one time I did during an international mission Doug said to me, “Mary, just because the road appears to be there doesn’t mean it really is.” I asked him what he meant, hence, he told me this story.)
“Secret agents don’t like to have their pictures taken.”
Doug met a Cuban Secret Agent in Central America. This agent’s cover was manager of a hotel, which was owned by the agent’s fianc‚e. Doug is non-political in nature and tries to get along with everybody and he made friends immediately with this guy. In fact, the Cuban agent told Doug that “some people take a long time to make friends, but I know right away. I can trust you.”
There are quite a few interesting stories of adventures with this character. Including this agent asking Doug to watch his child for a moment. He watched his friend walk behind a building. Doug couldn’t stop himself and with child in hand, he peeked around the corner. Doug saw this Cuban agent with a stack of cash, a foot and a half high, paying off somebody. Doug realized he didn’t want to know the details and quickly moved away from the building.
The following story, is being told in Doug’s own words, as another lesson in the intrigues of foreign disasters, and how you may never quite know what is going on:
My friend, the Cuban Secret Agent asked me to be his best man at his city hall wedding. His wife to be had asked me to take lots of pictures of the ceremony. I said, “sure no problem.” I took three rolls of pictures. I told her that when I returned to San Francisco I would have the film developed and send her the photos.
I returned to San Francisco, I took the film to be developed and when I picked it up not a single photo resulted. All the pictures had been exposed.
(No Photo Available)
It didn’t take a second for me to figure it out, as I chuckled to myself and remembered a causal remark that my Cuban friend had made while he was relaying a story to me.
He told me how Mexican Intelligence had captured him. While torturing him they broke his jaw; he lost his hearing, in his right ear, and they used electrodes on the unmentionables. He told me that the Mexican Intelligence had done this as a favor for the CIA and later they let him go because the Mexicans really weren’t interested in him, for their own self-interest.
To look at this Cuban Secret Agent you would never know that he had been tortured. He had creases in his pants like razor blades, not a wrinkle I could ever see on his clothes. His shoes were always shined, and never was there a hair out of place. He marched when he walked! His wife was extremely attractive, very beautiful and he was handsome. You would never think that this image of perfection would have been tortured.
After telling me this story he causally remarked “I don’t like having my picture taken.” So in San Francisco, after I picked up the exposed film of his wedding, it all dawned on me: My friend, the Secret Cuban Agent, whose cover was manager of the hotel, had used his room key to enter my room, expose my film and then rewound it again. Result – no pictures.
I have remembered this story with humor over the years. Later on in Turkey on a wilderness search and rescue for a missing American, I remembered and played a childish prank on the Chief CIA officer in Turkey. I took his picture several times, knowing that under the circumstances he couldn’t refuse the group picture.
He squirmed whenever I took his picture like a little boy with ants in his pants. I could imagine him swearing at me out of the corner of his mouth. I never did use the pictures; I destroyed them. But the CIA agent was a loud mouth arrogant jerk and I enjoyed teasing him.
“Only the CIA can have these maps”
Here is another story Doug told me about making assumptions:
Please bear in mind that one of my best friends is a retired CIA agent. So I don’t hate the CIA in general. Only assholes in particular.3
This CIA agent was sitting at a table in the garden of our hotel in Southern Turkey. We were using this hotel as our base of operation for the successful search for this missing American. Local authorities, the US government and the Turkish Army had spent the last five and a half months looking for him. The agent was a little bit peeved that we found the missing American’s remains on our first day.
On our table was a satellite photograph taken by a newly launched Canadian satellite, not yet officially inaugurated, showing incredible detail of the search area.
The CIA agent shouted, “only the CIA can have these maps.” To which I calmly replied they were taken by the Canadian government and although the United States government has restricted them to the CIA, the Canadian Government decided to give them to us.
I explained, “We are an international organization and you have no jurisdiction over what the Canadian government decides to do.” He turned beet red, shut his mouth, sat back in his chair and bit his lip.
He really hated my guts. Especially after I had the hotel wake him up at four o’clock in the morning to give him a package containing a bathing suit which was left by one of the embassy secretaries. The note informed him that the secretary had asked if he could return it with him. He didn’t like being woken up at four o’clock in the morning to open a brown paper parcel, to be asked to be the delivery boy for a secretary’s bathing suit. (I thought why should he sleep? He is getting paid big money, to do nothing and here I am wrapping up my workday at 3:30 AM.)
‘Duck and Cover’ Really is ‘Duck and Splatter’
Surviving collapsed buildings is something Doug has experience with. He has crawled inside more that eight hundred collapsed buildings, surviving three buildings collapsing on top of him. Hence, one of the major activities of both ARTI and Doug, when not actually rescuing people, is to teach people appropriate disaster response procedures and rescue.
Doug has changed the policy of earthquake victim response in many countries. On a continuous basis you can hear Doug on the radio or watch him on television programs like Real TV, the Learning Channel, Discovery Channel or HBO. He explains that most people die when buildings collapse and in most cases simple knowledge would have saved their lives.
In 1996, Doug collaborated with the federal government of Turkey, the University of Istanbul, the City of Istanbul, the Turkish Rescue Team “AKUT” and the Turkish Television Production Company ‘Case Productions’; to create a scientific test to clearly illustrate the process involved in building collapse. A school and a home were filled with typical furniture and twenty mannequins. The building was structurally weakened and prepared to collapse exactly as it would during an Earthquake. This entire process was filmed.
Doug with ARTI members of the AKUT team in Turkey
After the building was collapsed, Doug and the AKUT rescue team crawled inside the buildings to film the results. The ten dummies that followed the “duck and cover” method were squashed or splattered when the building crushed the desks and beds they were under. Three of the dummies also had their heads chopped off. The teacher under the desk was chopped into three pieces.
Of the ten mannequins that followed the “Triangle of Life” method, nine were completely untouched. The tenth was struck in the leg by a five pound piece of sheet rock. It is expected that this would have resulted in a bruise if the mannequin had actually been a human being.
The method invented by Doug called the “Triangle of Life” explains that triangles are voids that are formed next to crushed objects. If you are in that void or “Triangle of Life” you will survive because you’re not crushed like you would be if you got under something, like a desk or bed, that was crushed.
(People who read this book will clearly understand how the “Triangle of Life” method can save their life.)
There are many more stories that will be told. The above is merely a sampling of the way my life has been. I thank the Lord for allowing me to live. I have no regrets and I am profoundly grateful that I have been able to live such an interesting and useful life.
Short Biography: Douglas F. Copp
Douglas F. Copp is the Rescue Chief/ Executive Director/Founder of the world’s most experienced Rescue Team, The American Rescue Team International (ARTI) and it’s International Disaster Mitigation Group (IDMG). This team is made up of volunteers from around the world.
Mr. Copp is reported to be the most experienced, knowledgeable individual in the world, regarding a multitude of skills dealing with natural and man-made disasters. He has firsthand knowledge of phenomenon, such as, landslides, mud slides, rock slides, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, explosions, toxic clouds, firestorms, floods, water disasters and mine collapses.
At age 19, Copp worked at a German Think Tank. In this guarded compound with 295 Ph.D.’s, he helped to develop the design and construction of an electronic trigger for a laser satellite. At this young age he had NATO Security Clearance and had completed his requirements for ‘Praktikant’ under the German University system.
Since then Mr. Copp has enjoyed a lifetime of dynamic challenges. He was an undercover policeman in Canada, his country of origin. At 21 years, he built his first home and at 34 years he designed and constructed a thirty-five foot sailboat, which he now uses as his office. In addition, he is the responsible managing officer and license holder for a nationwide demolition company.
In 1989-90 he was given the prestigious position of UNX051 with the United Nations International Emergency Network. As such he was given unique access to the United Nations computer banks.
His work has taken him to most of the major disasters throughout the world for the last thirteen years. This includes incidents like the explosion in Oklahoma City, the Occupation of the Japanese Ambassador’s Residence in Peru and the Kobe Earthquake. In Latin America, his nickname is La Cucaracha because of his reputation of being able to navigate, search, rescue and survive devastating earthquakes.
Mr. Copp has earned the respect of various dignitaries from many different countries, including several Presidents. This is due to his knowledge and observable humanitarian efforts. Because of this, he is often put in charge of a stricken nation’s resources in order to increase the survivability of the victims. Key to Copp’s contribution is his routine commitment to give training to the major rescue teams of the country in which he is providing aide.
Currently, Copp is in the process of patenting and licensing three of Copp’s inventions… a device which will locate a victim trapped within a very large collapsed building, in less than five minutes; a device which makes solid rock acoustically transparent for several hundred feet for finding victims trapped in collapsed mines; and a device which finds dead people in collapsed buildings, landslides and underwater.
Copp has been in at least 1,500 life threatening circumstances; including, crawling inside of 800+ collapsed buildings. Although the death rate is extremely high for this work and he has been in charge of some sites with more than 300 workers, not one single individual, under his charge, has ever been killed or had an injury.
Over 80 international lectures and trainings to date, on a wide variety of topics
He is the creator of the ‘Triangle of Life’ survival method which is being adopted throughout the world to take survival from the current 2% during building collapse to a general 75% level.
He has made 2 training films… ‘Urban Heavy Rescue’ that explains the complete rescue at a 30 story collapsed concrete building (actual footage of my working at 9 major disasters). ‘Disaster Management: Kobe, The Inside Story’ explains many management procedures.
1 See Douglas F. Copp Short Biography
2 I was in charge of the rescue at the Presidential compound and the guerrillas had taken me there. That is another story of how I convinced the guerrillas to take me to rescue their archenemy.
3 Sometimes I have to shake my head at myself, like the time I grabbed President Durate by the shirt collar and stuck my finger in his face. I told him that he had better follow my instructions or a great many people were going to die. This was at the Presidential compound in the middle of a revolution. It is much to President Napoleon Durate’s credit that instead of becoming angry he actually followed my instructions. He is dead, now. I remember him as one of the best leaders I have ever met. He was a good man.
Years later I asked Jeff Cree, the camera man for ABC news, if he had seen me grab the president. He responded “See it? I filmed it!” (Photo Available: ABC) It is not always easy being the conservative, reasonable side of Doug Copp’s psyche. Sometimes, I shake my head in amazement.
Copyright 1999 Douglas F. Copp phone/fax: 510.523.5493 page 11″