National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is an agency that functions under the Ministry of Home Affairs. The main aim of this agency is to coordinate response to natural or man-made disasters. It also works for capacity-building in disaster resiliency and crisis response.
To check on how good it is at earthquake preparedness and response mechanism of all Government agencies of the district in the event of a high intensity earthquake, the agency conducted a mock exercise in Faridabad, Haryana.
The simulation exercise was conducted simultaneously at five select locations - Mini Secretariat - Faridabad, a private hospital (Sarvodaya Hospital), a high-rise residential complex (HEWO flats), a shopping mall (Crown Palace Mall) and Government School (Rajkiya Kanya Varishtha Madhyamik Vidyalaya) to assess and improve the response mechanism to mitigate the impact of a high-intensity earthquake.
NDMA expert Major General V.K. Dutta (Retd.), who led the exercise, briefed about the proceedings of the day. The exercise started with a siren indicating the occurrence of tremors. Everybody ducked under the tables while covering their heads. After few moments, evacuation instructions were issued with strict instructions not to take electrical lift and take the fire escape, and assemble in an open space. Rescue teams were then formed under Incident Commanders and dispatched to the respective locations.
Rescue drills were conducted in coordination with various agencies, such as Traffic Control, Fire Fighting department, Ambulances, Police and Civil Defence. Using various techniques, people buried under the rubble were rescued and sent to hospitals after administrating preliminary first aid. After the drill, a post-exercise analysis was carried out by NDMA, in which all the district officials, defence personnel and Commissioner of Police took part.
The National Disaster Guidelines significantly focuses on Prevention, Mitigation and Preparedness for a disastrous situation. NDMA regularly conducts such mock exercises throughout the country in its efforts to improve preparedness and response mechanisms for a given disaster. The mock exercise was part of a three-day event which began with a Coordination Conference followed by a Table-top Exercise. Senior officials from all the important departments such as NDRF, health, police, education, firefighting, Civil Defence, Public Relations, transport, etc. from the district attended these preparatory meetings and in the exercise. Located in the seismic zone IV, Faridabad is prone to an earthquake in the range of 6.9 to 8.2 on the Richter scale. An earthquake of this intensity can cause major damage in terms of lives and infrastructure. This mock drill ensured better response in the event of a disaster to reduce loss of lives.