Disaster Management (or Emergency management) is the creation of plans through which communities reduce vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters. Disaster management does not avert or eliminate the threats; instead, it focuses on creating plans to decrease the effect of disasters. Failure to create a plan could lead to human mortality, loss of revenue, and damage to assets. Events covered by disaster management include acts of terrorism, industrial sabotage, fire, natural disasters (such as earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.), public disorder, industrial accidents, and communication failures.
Before proceeding let me mention some of major natural disasters faced by state of J&K in recent years.
1) Snow Blizzard at WaltenguNad (Kulgam district) February, 2005:
On 18th Feb 2005 a snow blizzard occurred in villages Waltengu Nad, Pachgam and Nigeenpora affecting 128 families consisting of 618 souls. During the incident 175 lives (54 men, 48 women and 73 children) were lost. In many cases full families were wiped out. 183 sheep/goats, 308 cows, 54 buffaloes and 5 horses perished.
2) Kashmir Earthquake, October, 2005:
On 8th October, 2005 a devastating earthquake of magnitude 7.6 resulted in 953 deaths and 418 injuries in J&K (also more than 80,000 deaths in PaK. This was one of the deadliest earthquakes in the sub-continent. 23,782 houses were fully damaged in the quake in J&K. 40.3% of the deaths comprised children below 10 years of age, thereby depicting their vulnerability and signifying the importance of school safety.
3) Leh Cloudburst and Flash floods, August 2010:
On the intervening night of August 5 - 6, 2010, Leh witnessed a devastative cloudburst followed by flashfloods. The unprecedented event resulted in the death of over 250 people and damage worth crores of rupees. The areas in and around Leh, especially Choglamsar, where people had constructed houses along the dry water course had no idea that the stream could get flooded and wash away everything whatever came in its way.
4) Cloud burst at Bagger (District Doda), June 2011:
A cloud burst occurred at Bagger in District Doda on 8th June 2011, where 17 structures got washed away and three people died. The dead bodies got washed away and have not been traced till date.
5) 2014 Kashmir Floods
In September 2014, the Kashmir region suffered disastrous floods across many of its districts caused by torrential rainfall .By 24 September 2014, nearly 277 people in India. According to the Home Ministry of India, several thousand villages across the state had been hit and 390 villages had been completely submerged. In actual figures 2600 villages were reported to be affected in Jammu and Kashmir, out of which 390 villages in Kashmir were completely submerged. 1225 villages were partially affected and 1000 villages were affected in Jammu Division.
(Source ; Website of Department of Environment Ecology and Remote Sensing J&K)
Emergency Planning Ideals
If possible, emergency planning should aim to prevent emergencies from occurring, and failing that, should develop a good action plan to mitigate the results and effects of any emergencies. As time goes on, and more data becomes available, usually through the study of emergencies as they occur, a plan should evolve. The development of emergency plans is a cyclical process, common to many risk management disciplines, such as Business Continuity and Security Risk Management, as set out below:
• Recognition or identification of risks
• Ranking or evaluation of risks
• Responding to significant risks
• Resourcing controls
• Reaction Planning
• Reporting & monitoring risk performance
• Reviewing the Risk Management framework
Phases and Personal activities
It focuses on preventing the human hazard, primarily from potential natural disasters or terrorist attacks. Preventive measures are taken on both the domestic and international levels, designed to provide permanent protection from disasters. Not all disasters, particularly natural disasters, can be prevented, but the risk of loss of life and injury can be mitigated with good evacuation plans, environmental planning and design standards. Preventing or reducing the impacts of disasters on our communities is a key focus for emergency management efforts today. Prevention and mitigation also help reduce the financial costs of disaster response and recovery.
Preventive or mitigation measures take different forms for different types of disasters. In earthquake prone areas, these preventive measures might include structural changes such as the installation of an earthquake valve to instantly shut off the natural gas supply, seismic retrofits of property, and the securing of items inside a building. The latter may include the mounting of furniture, refrigerators, water heaters and breakables to the walls, and the addition of cabinet latches. In flood prone areas, houses can be built on poles/stilts. In areas prone to prolonged electricity black-outs installation of a generator ensures continuation of electrical service. The construction of storm cellars and fallout shelters are further examples of personal mitigative actions.
Preparedness focuses on preparing equipment and procedures for use when a disaster occurs. This equipment and these procedures can be used to reduce vulnerability to disaster, to mitigate the impacts of a disaster or to respond more efficiently in an emergency.
Local Emergency Planning Committees
Particular requirements of Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) include
• Identification of facilities and transportation routes of extremely hazardous substances
• Description of emergency response procedures, on and off site
• Designation of a community coordinator and facility emergency coordinator(s) to implement the plan
• Outline of emergency notification procedures
• Description of how to determine the probable affected area and population by releases
• Description of local emergency equipment and facilities and the persons responsible for them
• Outline of evacuation plans
• A training program for emergency responders (including schedules)
• Methods and schedules for exercising emergency response plans
The response phase of an emergency may commence with Search and Rescue but in all cases the focus will quickly turn to fulfilling the basic humanitarian needs of the affected population. This assistance may be provided by national or international agencies and organizations. Effective coordination of disaster assistance is often crucial, particularly when many organizations respond and local emergency management agency (LEMA) capacity has been exceeded by the demand or diminished by the disaster itself
Donations are often sought during this period, especially for large disasters that overwhelm local capacity. Due to efficiencies of scale, money is often the most cost-effective donation if fraud is avoided. Money is also the most flexible, and if goods are sourced locally then transportation is minimized and the local economy is boosted. Some donors prefer to send gifts in kind, however these items can end up creating issues, rather than helping. Medical considerations will vary greatly based on the type of disaster and secondary effects. Survivors may sustain a multitude of injuries to include lacerations, burns, near drowning, or crush syndrome.
The recovery phase starts after the immediate threat to human life has subsided. The immediate goal of the recovery phase is to bring the affected area back to normalcy as quickly as possible. During reconstruction it is recommended to consider the location or construction material of the property.
The most extreme home confinement scenarios include war, famine and severe epidemics and may last a year or more. Then recovery will take place inside the home. Planners for these events usually buy bulk foods and appropriate storage and preparation equipment, and eat the food as part of normal life. A simple balanced diet can be constructed from vitamin pills, whole-meal wheat, beans, dried milk, corn, and cooking oil.One should add vegetables, fruits, spices and meats, both prepared and fresh-gardened, when possible.
International organizations Involved in Disaster Management
a) The International Emergency Management Society
b) International Association of Emergency Managers
c) International Recovery Platform
d) The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
e) Baptist Global Response
f) United Nations
g) World Bank
National Organizations Involved in Disaster Management in India
The National Disaster Management Authority is the primary government agency responsible for planning and capacity-building for disaster relief. Its emphasis is primarily on strategic risk management and mitigation, as well as developing policies and planning. The National Institute of Disaster Management is a policy think-tank and training institution for developing guidelines and training programs for mitigating disasters and managing crisis response.
The National Disaster Response Force is the government agency primarily responsible for emergency management during natural and man-made disasters, with specialized skills in search, rescue and rehabilitation. The Ministry of Science and Technology also contains an agency that brings the expertise of earth scientists and meteorologists to emergency management. The Indian Armed Forces also plays an important role in the rescue/recovery operations after disasters.
- The writer is a final year Civil Engineering Student