The typical characteristics of a volcano emergency response are a short 24- to 48-hour emergency phase, followed by an extended recovery phase, which may be weeks or years, depending on the context. The emergency phase encompasses the critical window when those people injured in the initial eruption need to receive urgent life-saving care.
The recovery phase is characterized by the extended period of elevated primary health needs among the affected community, particularly those families displaced and living in evacuation centers. The main primary health problems during a volcano response are: respiratory and eye issues, exacerbated chronic conditions, dermatological issues, and maternal and child health care.
Factors that can extend the recovery phase are damage and contamination of sources of drinking water, such as wells, river systems, dams and catchment areas, as well as deforestation and the destruction of crops and livestock, which creates increased vulnerability among subsistence communities and undermines livelihoods. All these factors combine to weaken community health resiliency and increase the need to support local health care providers.