Mount saint Helens, being one of the largest volcano eruptions since records began, needed an immediate and massive response from the US government in order to keep the count low and to cater to the safety of people within the vicinity. The short term response was rapid, mainly due to the fact that the eruption was no surprise – geologists had been expecting it for three months and therefore had such things as rescue helicopters nearby to deal with the eruption when it were to come.
On the 18th of May, 1980, mount saint Helens catastrophically erupted releasing 24 megatons of thermal energy, equivalent to 1600 times the size of an atomic bomb. One of the first responses was to start a search and rescue – flying helicopters around the vicinity and rescuing any who may be trapped in deadly lahars for example. This would have been of major importance as it is well documented that there were many sight-see-ers within 30 miles who had stayed the night, waiting to catch the first moments of the eruption on camera from a supposedly safe distance. The mudflows though, caused by the melting of the ice on top of the mountain went, travelled for more than 25 miles, 20 miles further than the 5 miles exclusion zone. The search and rescue teams would have searched for these people trapped and helped them out, which Is one of the reasons the death count is so low.
Not only that, residents who had been evacuated once to be out of the 5 mile exclusion zone had to be moved further way once scientists realized that this eruption was much worse than they had presumed it would be. This would have had to be done extremely quickly, as the pyroclastic flows that had were flowing out of the volcano were travelling at speeds of up to 500 mph, so every second was crucial. The one thing that you have to always be wary of when evacuating people away and giving them temporary places to stay such as school halls is that there is a certain level of hygiene so there is no...