Abu Ala Hasan: 9 Proposals for Disaster Preparedness

© Abu Ala Hasan/ Demotix
© Abu Ala Hasan/ Demotix

9 Proposals for Disaster Preparedness
Guest Post by Abu Ala Hasan for AlalODulal.org, just returned from Savar

For photographing I had to go inside the building and for the whole day I closely observed the rescue efforts in and outside of the building. First, I would like to acknowledge the heroic effort by some of the members of the public, fire service and armed forces. These people are risking their life without any safety measures to save others. They are working like super human for days without rest in a place no better than hell with acute stench of rotten human flesh, intense heat, dust, darkness and suffocating atmosphere. I salute them.
Now I want to focus on some aspects of the management of this rescue operation by the authorities responsible.

1. I did not see professional discipline from many of the members of armed forces there. They were wondering aimlessly inside the disaster site and lacked motivation and effort. Effective commanding and leadership was clearly lacking. They also failed to cordon and seclude the disaster site properly.

2.The coordination among different agencies were also lacking.

3. Basic equipments for such rescue such as hack-saws, hammers, concrete cutters, lighting arrangements, torch lights, power supply was inadequate.

4. There was no distribution arrangement for such tools when and where required. Volunteers were standing with the placards beside the road and people were providing those (including myself).

5. The main force of this rescue was the untrained people who volunteered. There was no guidance, facilitation, coordination and supervision of their efforts by the authorities responsible for the rescue.

6. Private sector fire fighters were a significant force but there was no facilitation and coordination of their activities either.

7. Crowds were terrible, people without any purpose flocked there just to watch. Law-enforcement agencies and volunteers started to block them kilometers away yet thousands managed to slip through.

8. People who are responsible for such operation seemed to lack skill, experience and motivation for such rescue effort and their performance was not satisfactory as I mentioned about the miss-management earlier.

9. The agencies seemed to be lacking adequate, training, skills, equipments and motivations for such rescue operations.

10. Volunteers played an important role to keep the curious crowd at bay and roads clear for ambulances (many of whom might be luring party loyalists according to people, it was good job; though their presence was not visible at the disaster site as of other political party supporters)

11. Some media staffs, photographers were going very close, disturbing the rescuers and hindering the rescue operation. some even entered with arguments with rescuers.

12. Media, except few, failed to convey the picture of mis-management and news of necessary equipments and needs.

Therefore, my quick suggestions are,

1. we need to improve the capacity of our authorities for rescue and salvage in terms of skills, training, motivation and equipments.

2. There should be a mechanism to mobilize and manage the volunteers from the public in such occasions; who have already been proven as an asset.

3. There should be a coordinated effort to train volunteers from the public.

4. responsibility to coordinate / leadership of such operations should be given to trained and experienced professionals who have the capacity to manage such efforts rather than some military or other officials.

5. fire service should be lead by professional fire fighters or rescue professionals.

6. Community involvement for civil defense and rescue should be increased.

7. Mass people should be made aware about disaster situations so that they do not make the rescue operations more difficult. Media could play an important role in this regard.

8. Media could keep the people and the authorities aware and informed about the needs in such situations to ensure timely supply and action.

9. There should be a proper and well communicated guideline for media and media personnel for such situation so that they can not hinder rescue. Media houses should educate their staffs about such norms.

© Abu Ala Hasan/ Demotix
Relatives of those trapped in building throwing brickbats to show frustration at slow pace of rescue © Abu Ala Hasan/ Demotix

Link of my photos of the disaster site:
http://www.demotix.com/news/1996126/rescue-effort-goes-2nd-day-collapsed-savar-building#media-1996073

© Abu Ala Hasan / Demotix
© Abu Ala Hasan / Demotix

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