Nurses chatting over the phone with one of them chewing gum, police officers clicking pictures and selfies, a line of vehicles of senior officers blocking the way of an ambulance meant to ferry the injured to hospital were some of the scenes witnessed during a mock drill carried out by the district administration and the country’s premier National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) in the city on Friday.
The mock drill was conducted at various public buildings across the city to check level of preparedness in case a calamity occurs. Bachat Bhawan at the mini-secretariat complex was made emergency operation centre for the task.
An earthquake scene was created to carry out the drill to give a practical experience of the operation to teams. The drill, however, appeared to expose a lack of seriousness considering the casualness that was at display.
The drill at Pavilion Mall started with the sound of an emergency alarm that scared the visitors at first. Though announcement — “All the customers are requested not to panic, this is an exercise” — was made, it was not audible due to anyone due to loud noise of alarm. Visitors could only hear the announcement and realise that it was a drill, when alarm was switched off after some time.
“They could have made the announcement first and then set off the alarm, allowing us to prepare ourselves for the drill,” said a visitor at the mall.
As the exercise to evacuate the ‘injured’ began, the rescue team simulated a jammed main door. As a result they drilled a hole into a large piece of cardboard, which is a process called ‘structuring’ to facilitate evacuation of the injured. However, since the ambulance was stationed at a distance with vehicles belonging to the senior officials occupying the nearby space, rescue teams had to walk a longer distance to the ambulance with stretchers carrying the ‘injured’.
Many of the ‘injured’ were equally casual and for them it seemed like a fun ride. One of the ‘injured’ who was supposed to be unconscious was seen laughing as he was pulled out. Not so amused, NDRF personnel were seen instructing him not to laugh. Some of the officers present too, were seen indulging in light conversations and laughter during the drill.
In another instance, a victim who needed emergency care was administered oxygen by the first-aid team and rushed to the ambulance through the main door, which was supposed to be jammed. The rescue team members simply forgot that the main door was stuck and that they had drilled a hole for rescue operations. Different teams from Punjab Police, Indian Army, NDRF, Territorial Army, Civil Defence, Homeguards, health department, fire brigade, municipal corporation, veterinary department, public health and several others took part in the mock exercise.