CHENNAI: Even as Nepal prepares to battle with the effects of the massive earthquake that has struck, districts across Tamil Nadu have been sitting up for workshops on disaster preparedness over the past month. The workshops, that are an initiative of the Revenue Department, the Department of Public Health and the State Disaster Management Authority aim to strengthen the systems and the coordination between different departments.
The workshop, called Strengthening Emergency Response System in Hospitals, has been targeting medical professionals, fire department personnel, police departments and home guards, to equip them with being prepared, even when there isn’t any hint of disaster.
“In Nepal, it was not anticipated. In places like Japan, they are always prepared. Even in Assam, the disaster management department operate like an IT office because they are always prepared. Even if it happens rarely, the training needs to be such that there is a change in the behavioural pattern,” says Hari Balaji, National Consultant for disaster management, who was worked with the National Disaster Management Authority on projects across the country, and is in the State now conducting the training. Representatives from the government health department and other departments are also involved in the training programme, each district having a participation of 150 to 180.
Besides reiterating important facts and terms, the training aims to sensitise people on associated psychosocial issues from disasters, the gender angle and persons with special needs. “When people first hear about gender, they wonder why we speak about this when there is a disaster to handle. But the issues are enormous,” he says, recounting incidents of sexual abuse even by contractors engaged in rescue operations.
“We also want to have simpler procedures with confidentiality for complaints in case of sexual abuse — a girl has to go to over 20 places if she wishes to register and when she has already faced so much she does not want to run from pillar to post,” he says. Facilities for pregnant women with at least a separate room for emergency deliveries too are a must.
The resources, he says, are mostly in place but often have gaps in coordination, with different districts following different protocol. “We want to come up with a uniform protocol and flow of information that needs to followed everywhere, on who should inform whom, and how the flow of operations should start,” Balaji says.He adds that it could possibly be used even in an app form.
Information will also be collated and kept ready — detailed district profiles with demography, the vulnerable areas and requirements based on locations, possible spots for rehabilitation camps and the hospitals that would be involved in the rehabilitation.
The training, that began this month, has been completed in five districts, and will be on until July to finish all the districts.