‘Communication between field staff and the coordinator should be clear’

C.H. Pratap Reddy, Inspector-General of Police (Western Range) said in Mangalore on Monday that the authorities will have to take decisions on the spot to deal with disasters and there are no fixed rules to address the issues in such circumstances.

Mr. Reddy was inaugurating a five-day training programme on “incident response system and simulation exercise” for government officials. The National Institute of Disaster Management had organised the programme for officials of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, and Uttara Kannada.

Mr. Reddy said with Mangalore being the petrochemical zone, the government authorities would have to be always alert to face any untoward incident. He said simulation exercises and training programmes helped while dealing with disasters might be natural or human-made. All departments would have to respond with responsibility in dealing with disasters.

The IGP said that the police alone could not handle all disasters and they needed the cooperation and co-ordination by other departments.

Rajesh Bhatia, Assistant Director, Directorate of Training, Union Territory of Civil Services, Delhi, who was a resource person, said that India was one of the 10 countries in the world which were prone to natural disasters such as flood, drought, and earthquake.

No professional team

Pointing out at some of the problems during disasters, he said that designated authority responsible to handle a disaster did not have professional teams to fall back upon while dealing with the situation. When too many people reported to a supervisor at a time, he or she might get overwhelmed. If there were inadequate or weak communication facilities, the “golden hour” would be lost. He said that there should be proper communication between the field staff and the co-ordinator.

For example, he said in case of a fire, the field staff should specifically mention which type of fire engine was required whether large one or small one. If the coordinator sent a large fire tender it would not be able to move in narrow roads leading to the site of disaster. Mr. Bhatia said that unclear chain of command hampered the rescue operations during disasters.

He said the authorities would have to maintain an inventory of records of resources available such as boats, medical kits, doctors, and fire engines, with proper details to face disasters.

K.A. Dayanand, Additional Deputy Commissioner, and Harish Kumar K, Commissioner, Mangalore City Corporation, Mayor Gulzaar Banu were present.