Delhi will have to improve its emergency medical services and strengthen the communication network between various departments to effectively handle natural disasters, feel independent observers and international experts who monitored Tuesday’s mega mock drill.
They say there is an urgent need to further train and sensitise the hospital staff and equip them with infrastructure required to manage mass casualty disaster situations.
“We found hospital staff were not every supportive in the exercise. There were not enough stretchers to carry patients from ambulances and vans to emergency ward.
The staff carried patients in their arms without even bothering to understand the nature and extent of the injury,” said a doctor who observed the exercise at a government hospital, requesting anonymity.
The doctor said coordination was missing and despite tying bands on the arms of the victims that categorised them on the basis of their injuries, the staff did not take them to their designated wards.
A day after the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) conducted a mega mock drill to assess the capacity and preparedness of the medical sector in handling big disasters, about 300 independent observers from the Indian Army, doctors and international experts along with the officials of the agencies involved in the exercise deliberated upon how the agencies responded to the situation.
The mock drill was conducted at 33 locations across the city where different disaster situations were simulated and the response time of various agencies was assessed.
According to officials, the response time of the police and fire departments improved significantly in comparison to the previous mock drill but needed to be better.
The patient information system and hospital incident command system needs to be strengthened, they said, adding more training was required for capacity building of
emergency medical professionals.
“One thing that lacked in the exercise was public participation. It is the general public which is closest to the spot when a disaster strikes and is required to act swiftly to save lives. We are now contemplating to set up local disaster response teams who would comprise local residents, and train them,” said an official.
Officials said the concept was very popular in European countries and in the US and can be implemented in Delhi. To start with, one team would be set up in each district of Delhi.
“We need to set up one single channel where people could be informed in case of disasters. The communication between various agencies left a lot to be desired. It should be the responsibility of that channel to inform about the incident and coordinate with all agencies concerned,” an official said.