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Over 1,500 participate in massive drill
A large number of people on Wednesday took part in the mega mock drill that was launched by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the district administration jointly here. The mock drill was carried out at 15 locations with experts listing out the steps that people should follow in case of earthquake or fire.
District development project officer (DDPO), Kapil Sharma said that during the mock drill, people were informed about the measures that need to be taken in the event of earthquake or fire. He said that it has been noticed that people get panicky in the event of natural or man-made calamities and they were informed of the measures of how to tackle it.
The district administration and the NDMA had set up an emergency operation center to review the mock drill. "The response to the mock drill was overwhelming. Over 1,500 people took part in it," said Sharma. He said for the mock drill, the district administration had drawn a large number of civil defence volunteers. "Besides the personnel from the National Disaster Reserve Force (NDRF) the mock drill was also witnessed by army and air force observers," he said.
According to officials, the mock drill was aimed at checking the disaster management skills of concerned personnel and to create awareness among people about natural and man-made calamities. The mock drill was held at 15 places including the Civil Hospital, Sector 6, and Bharat Electronic Limited, Industrial Area Phase-II and Alchemist Hospital, Sector 21.
Deputy Commissioner, Panchkula, Ashima Brar, said that the administration had made elaborate arrangements for the successful "demonstration and completion of mock drills". She said that for the drill, the services of 20 fire fighting systems, 19 ambulances, 15 JCB machines and various water tankers along with staff was utilized for the successful completion of these drills. "For the mock drill, a monitoring station was set up at the Mini-Secretariat to assist the incident command posts (ICP) established at various sites in Panchkula.
During the drills, traffic arrangement in the city was managed effectively by the traffic department and around 17 police officials and 330 constables of the police department participated in the event." The mock drill was also held at Hansraj Public School.
"The objective of the drill was to train the students as well as the staff to handle and manage any disasterous situation that may suddenly arise," said principal Jaya Bhardwaj.
PCR van on time, but ambulances, fire brigade arrive late
At 10.30 am on Wednesday, sirens blared at the Panjab University (PU) campus awe struck the students and the employees who were present at the Students' Centre. This was part of a mega mock drill exercise that conducted at the campus. Though there were many hiccups, the entire exercise ended at 1.30 pm. The ambulance reached 34 minutes late, while the fire brigade was 15 minutes late. Not only this, even the doctor from the Government Multi Specialty Hospital, Sector 16, was late.
However, the PCR van of the city police was on time. As a part of the exercise, the ladder, used for rescuing the people stuck in the Students' Centre building, also experienced some technical problem which was sorted out after the intervention of more people.
As many as 40 members of the Youth Congress Chandigarh chapter and 27 students of NCC Air Wing Sector 31 voluntarily participated in the exercise and acted as victims of the earthquake.
Later on, the National Disaster Response Force at PU headed by team commander Ashok Kumar also conducted radiation search meant to detect live victims. Six life detectors were used which had the capacity to search victims buried in debris.
A wall of concrete was also razed in triangle shape to save the people. Razing of the wall took more than an hour.
PEC University of Technology
Most of the students of the PEC were not aware of the mock drill exercise and they presumed that something serious in nature had happened in the institution. At 10.45 am all the students and faculty members reached the ground. At 10.58 am the fire brigade reached, at 11.04 am, the ambulance reached the institutions. However, the rescue force took 15 minutes to break open the lock of a door inside the PEC building.
Lack of women rescuers in UT team stumps rescue operation
The mega mock drill at Sector 17 included demonstrations of the emergency medical services, and search and rescue activities, including the dog squad operation, amidst communication failure after a disaster.
The rescue team that made the first attempt towards safe rescue of the 'victims' of the earthquake, failed in their operation as the female 'victims' refused to participate in the mock drill due to an absence of female members in the rescue team. "There was lack of coordination between members of the rescue squad and they made no address to the public. Moreover, the ambulance arrived much later than it should have and their were no stretchers nor female members in the team which caused inconvenience to the participants of the drill," informed JPS Kalra, General Secretary, Traders Association, Sector 17.
However, the second attempt by the rescue team of the National Disaster Rescue Force was a success and drew a lot of people towards the site. "Such an exercise should look genuine.The NDRF know their job well but for the team from the Administration, it was not a very satisfactory attempt. Such activities should be held frequently so that the people get familiarised with the exercise," Kalra further explained.
Vehicles were not allowed to be parked at the parking lot near Neelam Theatre. Due to this, the other parking lots witnessed a rush.
Despite attracting response from locas, the Mega Mock Drill did not go too well with some of the spectators, who had to face inconvenience due to the sealing of the parking area. "It is a mockery of the natural disaster rather than a mock drill. I had to park my car at a very distant place along with many others. Moreover, it is a waste of time and energy as nobody was able to understand what the demonstrators were saying due to unclear voices through the wireless systems they were using. The audience is just trying to guess what is going on," said Miyuri Bhatia, one of the spectators.
"The lights went off and public was restricted in its movement which affected the number of customers that we had at our shops," said Ravi, a shop owner in Sector 17. However, some of the spectators appreciated the exercise and felt that such activities helped create awareness among the people about the do's and don'ts one must keep in mind in case a disaster strikes.
Flat residents in shock
Some of the residents of the housing board flats in Sector 51 A were surprised by the alarm that was raised at 10.30 in the morning for the mega mock drill being organised in the tri-city. As the siren went off, a group of school students who were part of the drill went to the top-floor house of the selected building. The residents also began to gather at the site as the operation gained momentum. The fire fighters reached the spot on time and saved some of the children and sent them to the PCR ambulance.
Those who were still stuck on the floor were rescued by the team of civil defence that reached 10 minutes later. The operation that lasted for around an hour was also recorded on mobile phones by the residents who managed to reach the spot on time. Some residents left the spot much before the entire operation ended.
Emergency ward patients pushed out to make way for 'earthquake victims'
The patients in the emergency ward of Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, were the ones to suffer from the mock drill which was "scheduled" for 10.30 am Wednesday. For an "emergency" situation to arise, patients in the GMCH emergency who were already admitted were pushed outside in the corridors to make way for the "victims" of the earthquake.
One of the attendants of a patient told Newsline, "The entire space in ward number 20 was cleared off. Also, there was a woman lying on a stretcher. She was made to sit on a chair because a stretcher was needed for the mock drill".
Also, all the police staff and security were on their toes when the drill started and was going on till the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) arrived to check on the spot. The Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) South, BS Negi also reached the spot at 11.35 am.
Fire and Emergency Services Department staff reached the hospital ten minutes after the mock drill started. NCC cadets who posed as the patients posed as bystanders later. One of the students said, "It took the rescue team half an hour to reach us and rescue us. It is long enough for a person to die".
As per the officials of the rescue team it was a successful operation. There were many situations created by the Disaster Management Team from Chandimandir. More fire tenders were called due to an explosion in a gas cylinder. However, by the time a fire tender with a ladde arrivedr, which was called for rescue of the persons stuck on the first floor of the 32 police post, the rescue had already been done.
Fire situation, a wall's collapse, electric shocks and a bridge collapse situation were created in the hospital.
One of the students who was taken into the Emergency ward was repeatedly shaken by the doctors who asked him where he was hurt. He did not respond even when asked thrice. "I got irritated and finally told the doctor that I am dead," said the student.
"The doctor asked me where I was hurt. I told her in the arms, but she gave me a bandage on my head," said another one.
Another mock patient said, "The team which came to rescue me asked me to walk down the staircase. As we reached the ground floor, they picked me up and put me into the ambulance".
Those in the hospital who wanted to go from one department to another did not know why they were being stopped, while there were others who were just sitting in their rooms working.
Dr Raj Bahadur, Principal Director of GMCH, stood with the schoolchildren who were standing outside Block D of the hospital to gain knowledge about disaster management. When questioned he said: "I am just a spectator."
Secretariat, Sector 9
At the Deluxe Building of the Secretariat, Sector 9, the ambulance was later than its scheduled time like at many other locations where the drill took place. It took about 15 minutes for the building to be vacated, although the workers had been previously informed about the exercise. "Most of the people moved out when the siren went on which was mainly because the lights were switched off. We were unable to make out what was happening as we were driven away due to the crowding of the location," a person said. The first attempt by the team of the Administration was useless as they took a lot of time. Some of the spectators felt that such demonstrations are a good effort towards creating awareness among people about the things that can be done for one' s protection if such a disaster strikes. "We have got to know that one must not panic in such a situation and what one can do if one gets stuck in a building during the time of a disaster," said Ramesh, one of the spectators.
Rly station, ISBT see many goof-ups
Mock drills were organized at the Chandigarh Railway Station, airport as well as the bus stands covering areas frequented by hundreds of people everyday. At the railway station, the siren malfunctioned and a couple of minutes after the scheduled time, a back-up was put into action. The fire tender arrived at the spot even before the alarm was raised. A team of Fire and Emergency Services pressed into action, rushing into the station and picking up "victims".
Women constables with red paint on their faces were lying on the floor of the station. They were picked up by the police personnel and firemen. For some among the rescue teams, the victims proved too heavy to lift and help had to be sought. The rescued victims were taken out of the station and first aid administered.
However, no ambulance could reach the station. Despite repeated calls by the personnel present at the spot, the ambulances did not reach after getting stuck in traffic. CTU buses and fire tenders were then used to transport the victims to hospitals. The teams from civil defence also scouted the railway station for victims. Rail Ambulance was put to use. Meanwhile, at the ISBT Sector 43 the sound of the siren was so low that it could barely be heard. The police, ambulances and the fire tenders which were already waiting for the drill to begin, had to start their sirens to signal the mock earthquake.
One of the drivers of the bus who was waiting to leave for the journey refused to give way to the ambulance on its way inside to take the injured to the hospital. The police had to tell him the situation and then he let them go. Also, school children were waiting on the first floor of the ISBT complex posing as injured waiting for rescue. The "injured" were bought down from the first floor with ropes assuming that a wall has collapsed near the stairs of the complex.
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