Lessons learned: Preparing for disaster management

Published: October 10, 2016

KARACHI: After the October 8, 2005 devastating earthquake, the CEO of Health and Nutrition Development Society (HANDS), Pakistan Dr Shaikh Tanveer Ahmed reached the Allai Valley of Batagram, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on October 14.

Reaching the valley was not an easy task due to the landslide and intermittent rainfall. The United Nation’s helicopter, however, took them to the valley, where they discovered that no medical team was able to reach even six days after the disaster. There were just six or seven Pakistan Army soldiers at the site.

Most of the injuries, he recalled, were of backbones in, due to which several people were paralysed.

In order to create public awareness about disasters and to pay tribute to the victims of past disasters, the Pakistan Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), Sindh, in collaboration with HANDS, Pakistan, celebrated the National Disaster Awareness Day at Cantonment Board Clifton’s Beach View Park on Saturday.

Sharing his experience at the session, Ahmed said after the 2005 earthquake and super flood in Sindh in 2010, they learnt how to deal with disasters. “Pakistan has now been declared a disaster-prone country,” he said, adding that Pakistan has to have the courage to deal with manmade as well as natural disasters.

Around a year-and-a-half after the 2005 earthquake, Nepal also confronted a similar disaster, in which, according to Ahmed, Pakistan helped them and taught them how to form the National Disaster Management Authority.

Teaching through media

During the session, a video was also played to spread awareness among the people on how to deal with an earthquake. Through a story, the video taught that in case of an earthquake, one should immediately go to an open space and vacate buildings and houses. While vacating the house or any building during the earthquake, the use of elevators must strictly be avoided and stairs must be used. However, if it is not possible to vacate the building, people should sit under any wooden table, hold their legs tightly and put a pillow over their heads.

If tremors are felt while driving, the vehicle must be immediately stopped and parked somewhere away from any electric installations or trees.

According to the video, people should stay away from water during flood as the floodwater could have snakes or scorpions in it. Apart from that, all the electricity and gas connections must be suspended ahead of floods and stock of clean drinking water must be arranged.

The chief minister’s special assistant on religious affairs, Dr Qayoom Soomro, said that national unity was shown in the 1965 war and then later in the 2005 earthquake. He said that young students gave away all their pocket money as donations for the victims of the earthquake then.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2016.


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