My major job in Ethiopia this summer was crowd control. As a log, I am responsible for setting up the facilities where we work — a little bit of pioneering merit badge, architecture, and a whole lot of crowd control.

Here are two pictures from MSF’s interventions in Ethiopia that give you an idea of what my job looked like: the lines, talking to mothers.

MSF training didn’t prepare me for crowd control, which is too bad. There are some simple principles, and learning them by trial and error is dangerous and not very much fun (not for the log, not for the medical team, and especially not for the beneficiaries). The basic principle is “calm people are safe, scared people are dangerous”. Everything else follows from there. Keep people informed, and set up your site so that even if they don’t understand or can’t hear the verbal instructions, they can see what’s happening and be confident that they are waiting for something of value, and that it won’t run out before they get it.

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