Hyderabad November 26, 2008
Not yet recovered from last year’s three-bomb blast killing more than 50 people, the city of Hyderabad today under went an unprecedented security drill to test the preparedness of the emergency services to deal with a similar situation.
As part of the drill, organized by the National Disaster Management Authority, three mock explosions rocked the busy and crowded Secunderabad Railway Station at around 1-30 pm (IST) on Wednesday. The blasts took place on platform number six and seven and in the parking lot.
As the explosions had desired effect, smoke enveloped the sites of the blast, people ran helter-skelter, and screams of the “injure” rented the air, the emergency services were pressed in to service. Mutteshwara Rao, the joint collector of Hyderabad district who headed the command post to supervise the entire operation, immediately called in the ambulance and fire brigade and put the hospitals and other medical services on the alert. As per the plan, more than a hundred young boys and girls fell on the ground at the sites of the three blasts. Covered in artificial blood with torn and burnt cloths, they looked ever inch the victims of a blast. Make up was used to made them look like seriously injured and burnt to give a realistic touch to the proceedings. The railway protection force, the police and the ambulances were first to reach the scene of the blast and start evacuating the injured. The victims were first given the medical aid at the spot and then ambulances with blaring sirens took them to the nearest Gandhi hospital and Yashodha hospital. Apart from testing the preparedness of the police and other emergency services, the drill was also aimed at seeing how far the hospitals were equipped to deal with such a situation and how much time they require to admit the victims of such an incident”, said Gen N C Vij, the head of NDMA. The Emergency Medical Research Institute (EMRI), which runs 108 Ambulance service throughout the state, played a major role in the drill. On the whole 600 people and 35 ambulances participated in the two hour long drill. “Such drills will also help in creating the awareness among the people and it will teach them not to panic but to have faith in the system”, said General Vij, the former Chief of Indian Army. M Shashidhar Reddy, another member of NDMA said that in last year’s blasts in the city, several shortcomings in the emergency medical response and mass casualty response had come to light. “This drill will help in overcoming such shortcomings”, he said.
The drill covered all the aspects of emergency response right from cordoning off the scene of the blast, segregating the injured people to identify the most serious first, bringing the medical help to the scene, then shifting them to the hospitals, and preparing the necessary records by the government about the identity and other details of the victims.
“In all ten government departments and agencies have participated in the drill”, said Mutteshwara Rao. Apart from the usual communication systems, ham radios were also used as a backup to ensure that there was no break up in flow of information. To ensure that the ordinary people and the passengers don’t panic over what was happening, the public address system was used to make announcement about the impending drill and the blasts.