“International focus will be on India during the Commonwealth Games. It is a time we should be prepared to tackle any kind of threat, whether natural or man-made, and even possible terrorist attacks,” said Angeli Qwatra, Disaster Management expert on the Health and Medical Services Committee of the Commonwealth Games.
“At present we are not prepared for handling these kind of disasters which require special training,” said Qwatra, who has trained with the Red Cross Society and Safety First Institute, UK.
Qwatra said there are just three nodal hospitals — All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and GB Pant hospital — which are going to have trauma centres with ten dedicated beds each for disaster management during the Games.
“This is clearly not enough. Six lakh persons are likely to attend the opening and closing ceremony of the Games. All Delhi hospitals must have disaster management centres and we must have at least 400 dedicated beds to take care of potential victims besides a fleet of 1,000 ambulances with life saving equipment like ventilators and heart defibrillators,” she added.
Dr Qwatra is the chairperson of NGO Philanthrope which is working to empower citizens by imparting skills in emergency and disaster preparedness and management, rescue management, first aid awareness.
An anthropologist, she has worked with the Royal British Army Field Hospital to get practical experience in rescue management.
“Studies have shown that when at least 30 per cent of the population is trained in disaster preparedness, the chances of survival of the victim increase considerably,” she said.
Qwatra cited examples of how the average citizen was unprepared to handle even basic emergencies.
“Most persons do not know the right answers to questions like what should be done when a person starts bleeding from the nose, or what would you do to help a person with a fracture or who has sustained burns.”
Qwatra said the situation needed to be rectified in light of the upcoming high-profile Commonwealth Games.
“We want to train 30,000 volunteers to take care of any eventuality during the Games.”
She said the training would imparted over at least four days to batches of 50-60 people, “rather than the half a day briefing which was given to 200 volunteers recently when delegates from Commonwealth countries visited.”