A knot of college students hung around the left wing of the Planetarium, watching two men tend to a person stretched on the floor, wrapped in bandages.

A closer look revealed it was not a real life scenario but a replication of what goes on behind the doors of a 108 ambulance that rushes to sites of emergencies.

Part of the five day programme on ‘developing volunteers for disaster mitigation' organised by Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Centre at the Anna Planetarium here, the live demo by K.Dhanasekaran and his team from Emergency Management Research Institute, 108 ambulance services, Tiruchi, was a lesson in emergency preparedness.

The team demonstrated administering immediate medical care for head injury, fractures, burns and labour pains.

Around 100 undergraduate students, all NSS volunteers, from 25 arts and science colleges in the city have signed up for the programme supported by the National Council for Science and Technology Communication, Government of India. E.Ma. Masanamuthu, Commissioner of Police, inaugurating the event, said while human efforts can mitigate effects of natural disasters, awareness can prevent many man –made disasters and prepare students for volunteering during emergencies.

J.A. Arul Chellakumar, NSS Coordinator, Bharathidasan University spoke on the significance of leadership, the most important quality for disaster mitigation.

K.Muthukumar, Senior Manager- Safety Management, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, spoke about safety measures to prevent industrial disasters. P.Iyamperumal, Executive Director, Tamil Nadu Science and Technology centre also spoke.

According to T.M. Alagiri Swamy Raju, project Director, Anna Science Centre-Planetarium, a series of theoretical and hands on sessions by experts will equip students with disaster management skills vital for handling epidemics, floods, forest fires, earth quakes, tsunamis. Prevention of rail disasters and road accident and health implications will also be discussed.

A two day first aid training course by St. John Ambulance, Manapparai and a search and rescue mock drill by Tamil Nadu Fire Search and Rescue Service, Tiruchi are also on the cards.