Tag Archives: Emergency Preparedness

Health & Safety: In the midst of a disaster!

disaster response(Photo Source: Google)

Under any disaster situation, the immediate disaster responders have to work in a very close proximity with the victims. Besides there is high probability that the circumstances under which they are performing the job, inherently carry certain level of risks due to hazardous conditions involved.

During the Gorkha Earthquake 2015, we closely witnessed national and international search and rescue teams working so hard to save lives, sometimes even risking their own. With frequent earthquake tremors and surrounded by vulnerable structures, without doubt the rescue teams had extremely tough task in their hands. Here we should not forget the fact that the term “rescue” implies health & safety of both victims as well as the rescuers. 

In response to a disaster, community people, rescue workers, medical & first-aid providers would be the first to approach the incident site. More often than not, the disaster site lacks reliable information, adequate means of communication, clear line of authority and coordination between various support agencies. Unlike their usual selves, the health care providers and volunteers have to face extremely stressful medical and safety issues while exposing themselves to various hazards and risky situations.

Rescue workers may have safety concerns such as impending structural collapse, landslides, explosion, fire, electrocution or transmitting communicable diseases, etc. It can be a community fire incident, construction site accident, industrial chemical spill or an earthquake. Under the circumstances, disaster response teams need to be aware of potential risks and hazardous environment around them. An on-site injured responder doesn’t only become ineffective and an extra burden to the team but also bring about psychological fear among the rest of the team mates.

The term “Occupational Health & Safety (OHS)” is very popular and significant in manufacturing industries to keep employees safe from accidents or health hazards. In disaster response situation, OHS measures would help us prevent injuries and exposures while mitigating the risk of being hurt. As hazard exposures and risky conditions are inherent to disaster sites, the least we can do is to take adequate safety measures during the response activities.        

Depending on the requirements, disaster responders may have to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and protective clothing such as, gloves, steel-toed shoes, protective glasses, helmets, respiratory protection, ear plugs, etc. Professionals as well as volunteers must follow safety principles and guidelines while supervisors need to make sure that the safety procedures are being followed to protect both responders and victims from probable illness and injuries during the rescue operation.

Regular safety training and reviews of response procedures are important. Proper training of disaster workers has to be an integral part of the entire disaster response program. The search & Rescue personnel, volunteers, professionals, supervisors and managers need to be trained on various aspects of OHS such as damage awareness, risk assessment, environmental hazards, equipment handling, PPEs, safe lifting, safe handling of victims or dead bodies as well as on-site psychological support.

Although disaster responders have to assume certain level of risk as part of their job, they need to avoid heroism and emotionally driven actions in the midst of a crisis. Safety of the victims as well as the rescuers should be number one priority in the list. Above all, health-related precautions and safety measures must be inextricably attached to the entire disaster response planning, implementation and execution process.  

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Gorkha Earthquake 2015: Preparedness Lessons

Recalling the immediate moments after the major shaking of 25th April, 2015, Ms. Sita Shrestha a resident of Thankot, Chandragiri Municipality, Nepal, said “As soon as the shaking stopped, I took my son and daughter out of the house along with our Go-Bag”. She knew that Go-Bag was important but had never imagined that it could be so much useful under those chaotic circumstances.

She further added “At the time, many items out of the Go-Bag were very useful such as radio, tarpaulin, blanket, soap, Dettol, medications, torch-light, tooth pastes and even playing cards”. She was happy that playing cards kept the young boys awake in the nights which was good for the safety of the area. “This single Go Bag, I had stored, had been so useful to many of us. I thought what if everyone had their own Go Bag?” asked Sita rhetorically.

Mr. Hariman Singh Dangol, who lives nearby the renowned Nuwakot Palace in Nuwakot District, is an elderly local priest at the Bhairavi Temple close to the palace. Recalling the learnings from his old folks, Mr. Dangol actively demonstrated his earthquake-safe behavior that he applied inside the temple when the ground started shaking on that fateful day of the Gorkha Earthquake.

Mr. Manoj Tamang, a local resident of Laharepauwa VDC in Rasuwa District, mentioned that his younger brother was studying in the ground floor of a two-story house on the day of the Gorkha Earthquake. “He could run and go out but he chose to go under the bed during the earthquake; he learned this at his school” said Manoj painfully. On that day, Manoj lost his brother to the quake as the house collapsed and crushed the bed.

From Bidur Municipality-3 in Nuwakot District, Ms. Samita Dangol, a local shopkeeper, revealed her brave story and how she was able to rescue her two younger sisters even after the two-story house collapsed miserably. “The two school girls saved their lives taking shelter under the bed on the 2nd floor. This wouldn’t be possible if the bed was fragile or box-type” said Samita convincingly….

(NOTE: Please click the link below to read the entire article “’Go-Bag’ & ‘DCH’: Enough said, let’s make it right!”)

“Go-Bag” & “DCH”: Enough said, let’s make it right!

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What is BCP & Why Businesses Need One?

Business%20Continuity%20Planning(Photo Source: Google)

The concept of BCP (Business Continuity Plan) is relatively new in developing countries such as Nepal but simply put, BCP helps businesses to better prepare for disasters and mitigate their impacts greatly. A BCP is a management approach to ensure that critical business functions of your organization are operational under adverse condition and you have adequate plan and resources to complete the recovery process in the event of a natural, technological or a human-induced disaster….

(NOTE: Please click the link below to read the full article “BCP: ‘What?’ & ‘Why?'”

BCP: “What” & “Why”

Also Read:

(Part II) (2 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Struck-By Hazards

(Part II) (1 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Struck-By Hazards

(Part I) (1 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Fall Hazards

(Part I) (2 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Fall Hazards

Fire Prevention and Fire Protection – Air Pollution in Kathmandu – Construction PPE – Carbon Monoxide poisoning – Electrical Safety – Fall Protection in General Industry– Fearsome 4 of Construction Safety – Fall Restrain System Vs. Fall Arrest System – Respiratory Protection – Portable Ladder Safety – Confined Space Entry – Initiating First Aid/CPR – Are you too busy… – If you have $86,400 in your account… – Safety professionals have job prospects as Insurance Risk Surveyor or Loss Assessor

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