The mega mock drill conducted by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to check official preparedness to deal with a hypothetical earthquake at 15 different locations in SAS Nagar on Wednesday passed off without major hiccup, but definitely showed that a lot needs to be done to fine tune the system.
The drill did not involve local residents but was conducted only to educate officers about dos and donts in case of a natural disaster and improve coordination among different department likely to be involved in rescue operations.
The reaction time of rescue teams remained an area of concern, though no problem was faced in coordination among various departments, including police, health and fire in SAS Nagar.
“The mock drill was carried out to check our preparedness. The exercise was satisfactory, though there is scope for improvement. During the mock drill, we reported 29 deaths, 71 seriously injured, 55 moderately injured and 43 with minor injuries. Six patients were referred to PGIMER,” said SAS Nagar deputy commissioner Varun Roojam.
“The police were entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining law and order and ensure that there is no hindrance in rescue operation. There were no reports of problems in coordination among the police and other rescue teams and the reaction on the field was quick. The traffic was not hampered at any place owing to the drill,” said SAS Nagar SSP Gurpreet Singh Bhullar.
Amartex Mall, Phase 1
A dummy victim fell off the stretcher during rescue by the teams at Amartex Mall in Phase 1 at 11.30am. The incident occurred when the rescued persons were being shifted into the ambulance after first aid. However, the person did not sustain injury.
Foot overbridge, Phase 3B2
At the Foot overbridge in Phase 3B2, the teams after rescuing the injured from the collapsed bridge site had gathered them under the presumed collapsed structure before sending them off for medical aid in the ambulance.
Forest Complex, Sector 68
The fire engine, equipped with a 54- metre-long hydraulic ladder, was put to use for the first time during the mock drill to rescue persons trapped in high-rise building at Forest Complex. The rescuers, after bringing down the injured through a ladder, put them on the ground next to the main gate instead of taking them on stretchers to ambulances.
Chawla Petrol Pump, Sector 61
The tenders pressed into service to control fire were too close to the building while putting off the flames.
Ivory Tower Complex (Residential Area), Sector 70
Though the police had cordoned off the area but the haphazardly parked vehicles posed problem for the ambulances to reach till the building. The cops were seen struggling with the vehicles parked to clear passage for the ambulance.
Railway Station, SAS Nagar
The rescue team reached 30 minutes after the “natural disaster” and the injured remained lying on the floor without even first aid. There was no cordoning off of the site and members of the public could walk in and out of the spot without hindrances.
Scope for improvement
Infrastructure: Shortage of infrastructure in SAS Nagar is one area where the district administration needs to work. Observers opined that there was a need for more fire brigade men and machinery. There was also need for more such mock drills to improve response time and bring down causalities.
NDRF teams stuck: Observers held that the rescue teams of national disaster response force (NDRF) complained of traffic bottlenecks at few places.
More wireless sets needed: As the entire coordination was being done through wireless sets, such equipment should also have been provided to health and PWD departments to improve reaction time.
The mock drill was conducted to check the preparedness of official machinery but residents were not involved in the mock drill held on Wednesday. “We will hold more such drill involving city residents. Special sessions will be held in schools, colleges and with resident welfare associations,” said Dc Varun Roojam.