To strengthen urban disaster response in Chennai

The National Disaster Management Authority and the United Nations Disaster Management Team will begin the Chennai Emergency Management Exercise on August 4. The initiative, scheduled for five days, seeks to examine and strengthen urban disaster response in Chennai, said an official of the Chennai Corporation, who is involved in the exercise.

The effort builds on prior successful initiatives across India such as the Mumbai Emergency Management Exercise carried out with active support from the Government of Maharashtra and Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai in December 2010, said Naghma Firdaus, UN Disaster Management Team Associate.

As part of the exercise, a field drill would bring together leaders of Chennai's response agencies such as the police, fire and rescue services, national disaster response force and heads of hospitals, doctors, nurses, non-governmental organisations.

It would have a simulated disaster step by step. On the day before the field drill, all participants would meet at the Disaster Management Cell of the Chennai Corporation to practice simulated scenarios and identify roadblocks in execution.

On the day of the field drill, a mass casualty event would be simulated at YMCA Grounds in Nandanam with over 300 injured victims and the city's response agencies would be alerted.

This exercise has been developed over years of practice in various places across the world. It incorporates lessons learnt from other cities and would expose strengths and gaps in inter-agency communication and discrepancies in response planning, Ms. Firdaus said.

The exercise would have active support and participation of hospitals from southern States such as Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

The Corporation is likely to use the data collected in various localities such as Chintadripet and Saidapet, where economic, institutional and natural resilience to disaster has been surveyed recently.

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Aloysius Xavier LopezJune 28, 2012