My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the

American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world’s most experienced

rescue team. The info rmation in this article will save lives in an



I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams

from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a

member of many rescue teams from many countries.


I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years. I

have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for

simultaneous disasters.


The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City

during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under its desk. Every child

was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survi ved by

lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene, unnecessary


I wondered why the children were not in the aisles. I didn’t at the time

know that the children were told to hide under something.


Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings

falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving

a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the “triangle of

life”.  The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the

object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that

the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next

time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the “triangles” you

see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see,

in a collapsed building.




1) Most everyone who simply “ducks and covers” WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE are

crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are



2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position.

You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct.

You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa,

next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void

next to it.


3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during

an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake.

If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created.

Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick

buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries

but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs. 


4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply

roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve


much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on The

back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor,

next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.


5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out

the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to

a sofa, or large chair.


6) Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is

killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or

backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls

sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be



7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different “moment of

frequency ” (they swing separately from the main part of the building).

The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each

other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get

on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads – horribly

mutilated. Even if the building doesn’t collapse, stay away from the

stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if


stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when

overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety,

even when the rest of the building is not damaged.



8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible

– It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than

the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the

building the greater the probability that your escape route will be



9) People inside of t heir vehicles are crushed when the road above falls

in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened

with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of

the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were

all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or

lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they


been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the

crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that


columns fall directly across them.


10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices

and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact.

Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.


Spread the word and save someone’s life… The Entire world is

experiencing natural calamities so be prepared!


“We are but angels with one wing, it takes two to fly”


In 1996 we made a film, which proved my survival methodology to be

correct. The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul , University of

Istanbul Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical,


test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten

mannequins did “duck and cover,” and ten mannequins I used in my

“triangle of life” survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse


crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the

results. The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under

directly observable, scientific conditions , relevant to building collapse,

showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck

and cover.


There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using

my method of the “triangle of life.”


  1. Michael says:

    Please, please, please tell me that people are not still buying into this man’s fictitious credentials and truly abhorrent advice regarding survival during an earthquake. Doug Copp is a known fraud and has been described as an ambulance chaser for disasters.

    The UN has formally renounced his claims at having been the “United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years”, and has even said that he has never worked with them in the past. Copp’s desperate attempts at media attention has led to him being a thorn in the emergency management community and gains recognition only through poor vetting by much of the media community and through false claims of bravery and heroics.

    Please do not allow your site to lend credence to this man’s fake credentials, and at a minimum please post a warning at the beginning of the post that his views are highly contradictory to any government agencies’ formal recommendations on how to survive an earthquake, and that he is still in the process of being investigated by the U.S. federal government for claims of valor during 9-11 (a site from which he was forcibly removed by police at the request of the acting incident commander and the rescue coordinator.

    I realize that giving credentials over a forum such as this is always suspect, so please research these matters for yourself. There is no shortage of available information regarding Copp’s nefarious claims to fame, so please see for yourself before you take potentially life threatening advice from a man that cannot validate any of his claimed experience.

    That said, I am an Emergency Manager with FEMA and hold a Masters degree in Emergency Services Management from George Washington University.

    Please educate yourselves on matters that may someday save (or risk) your life.


  2. I appreciate the reply that is given, therefore i am posting it and allowing my readers to do their research and choose for themselves.. thanks Michael

  3. Anonymous says:

    Your blog is doing amazingly well, keep up with the amazing work that you’ve done.

  4. ClaraHansen says:

    I don’t care one bit what you think about this man Doug Copp. because the advice he gives makes perfect sense and thats all that is important here.

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