The lack of uptake of offers of 'help' following the tsunami ( NCE 13 January) is in fact a positive indication of the professional manner in which emergencies are dealt with. Governments and aid agencies employ qualified and experienced staff who are able to rise to the challenge, without resorting to well-meaning, but unqualified and inexperienced volunteers.
Many tasks are being carried out by locally based staff and this should be praised rather than imply expatriate workers could do the work any better.
Emergency and development engineering is a specialized area, not suitable for short-term inputs from recent graduates or retired UK civil engineers. The multidisciplinary nature of the work and the skills, knowledge and aptitude required is not just a 'simplified' version of civil engineering, but a specific branch of the profession.
If an engineer does have a long-term commitment to this subject, then RedR and universities offer a range of courses to provide professional development in this field.
However, a response that all members of the profession can make is to write to their MP asking them to 'Make Poverty History' - this would help in a far more sustainable manner than volunteering, collecting money or building an early warning system.
Brian Reed (M), 12 Midland Cottages, West Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2 6BH