Monday, December 5, 2022

NSDMA holds Statewide mega mock drill on emergency preparedness


Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority (NSDMA) conducted the annual statewide mega mock drill of Nagaland Emergency Preparedness Exercise (NEPEx) was held as a part of preparations for earthquake disaster scenario of 8.7 magnitude.
Addressing media persons at NEPEx control room set up at NSDMA district headquarters here on Thursday, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) joint adviser (IT & Ops) Nawal Prakash, who was here to oversee the operation, said the North-eastern region was located in seismic zone 5 and hence highly vulnerable to earthquakes.
He mentioned that the mock drill was carried out to assess disaster response preparedness to an 8.7-magnitude earthquake, which would be very devastating in real life situation. In order to help prevent the devastation and minimise loss, he said such mock drills were being conducted across the country periodically to check the preparedness level.
Prakash disclosed that the epicentre of the quake was painted as Assam and the tremors were felt in Nagaland and Arunachal and therefore the mock drill was held simultaneously in the three States.
He claimed that the authorities had monitored all the preparedness-related activities during the exercise and found that although the State was prepared, there was a need for more improvements.
Prakash stressed improving communication, which was paramount as without it the response forces would not be able to respond to the situation. He also called for strengthening the medical response system because the painted scenario would result in a very high number of casualties.
Management of bodies, injured people and establishing field hospitals also need to be improved, he remarked.
Prakash however clarified, “We are not finding faults. We are only identifying the gaps and this is the best part of the drill. If we can identify our own gaps, then we can close them. We found certain gaps like communication and medical help. Therefore, we can now work to improve.”
He requested the media to also increase public awareness on the dos and don’ts during a disaster and emergency situations as part of social responsibility.
The official suggested further strengthening of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and stressing on depend less on outside support or armed forces.
In this regard, he said there was a programme called ‘Aapda Mitra’ where local community volunteers were trained to act as first responders in emergency situations since it was the community who responded first in such situations.
He opined that if all the community members were made aware of how to respond, then it would be a very good thing.
He emphasised that the first and foremost thing for disaster situations was awareness among the community, followed by preparedness and after which came National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and SDRF.
Principal secretary, home, Abhijit Sinha, who headed the mock drill, claimed that all government machineries concerned swung into action after the siren was sounded at the police headquarters (PHQ).
He explained that the primary objective of conducting NEPEx was to gauge the preparedness of the disaster response machineries, including SDRF, the police and medical department in the event of a real life mega disaster.
He disclosed that each unit was monitored by an observer who gave feedbacks on the response and readiness, besides offering suggestions on how and what to change or perform the job even better in order to make such exercise more effective.
He revealed that the state machineries also had some learning experiences through the mock drill that would be incorporated into the already existing plans.
Sinha acknowledged that communication and coordination among the State machineries needed improvement to have a more effective response during an emergency.
Highlighting safety measures to be followed during an emergency situation, NSDMA joint CEO Johnny Ruangmei called for practising “duck, hold and cover” whereby a person could avoid falling debris from the ceilings and protect his or her head by finding a cover.
He said the safest place in a building was below the beams that would be the last to fall.
He mentioned that only after ensuring that falling of debris after the first tremor had stopped that a person should go out of the house into the open and not run around in panic.
During the exercise, deputy commissioner’s (DC) office Kohima was used as a control room for the district and TM Government Higher Secondary School (GHSS) playground as the staging area and relief camp. Grace High School, Bayavü, Dr. Neilhouzhü Kire GHSS, Seikhazou, Mt Olive College Kohima; Mao bazaar BOC; Officer’s Hill house no. A236 were used as models for collapsed structures caused by the earthquake.
Naga Hospital Authority Kohima was used as a district hospital for treatment of casualties.
One officer each from 1st Assam Rifles, Kohima, 37 BSF Bn Keyake Kohima, 78 Bn CRPF Sechü-Zubza Kohima, 10 IR (NAP) Zhadima Kohima and 4th NAP Bn Thizama Kohima were placed as observers in all the staging areas.

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