Causes of Disasters – Prevention – Management – Mitigation – NDMA – Response to Disasters – Training & Preparation of NDMF – Dealing with Media – Responsibility of NDMF and transition of site to local authorities – Necessary Policies.
Quotations for considerations:
- “The fundamental causes of most disasters arise from human and organizational failures – inadequate safety protocols, corporate hierarchies, conflicting egos or plain laziness” – Robert Bea (Disaster Specialist).
- “The impulse… to devote resources to predicting the next (Disaster) makes (one) more vulnerable to those not predicted. It is better to invest in preparedness, not in prediction… One can have a clear idea of the consequences of an event, even if one does not know how likely or when it is likely to occur… Plan to mitigate the consequences” – Nicholas N. Taleb .
- “Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” – General George S. Patton
Natural phenomena may not always result in a Disaster, except when they affect people and their property and projects. Hence it is essential that we study such phenomena and plan to avoid such ill-effects.
To attempt to prevent disasters you need to have the discipline and foresight to make the necessary investments to attain to realistic and adequate safety and protection levels before getting into a situation where you then don’t have the resources to do so.
We tend to ignore warnings of catastrophes because we have short attention and memory spans of prior incidents and disasters. The real killer is our indolence. Don’t allow building in flood plains and low lying areas, specify appropriate regulations for building in seismic zones etc.
While we can’t always prevent a disaster but we can do things to mitigate the risks. If a project or building, etc needs to be done then we should be willing to bear the costs for doing so now in a responsible manner. Not doing so would definitely result in greater, even catastrophic, costs (even 100 or 1000 times more) in future.
But how safe is safe enough? In most cases be practical and realistic in assessing the level of safety determined to be desirable. However, when considering densely populated or intrinsically high risk projects (Nuclear Power, Chemical and Biological facilities etc) think about the ‘impossible’ happening and plan for the worst case as today the aviation industry does. If the cost is too high, then seek to avoid the situation. If it is unavoidable then the cost must be incurred.
- Disaster Management starts with ensuring the determination and specification of effective preventive measures, arising out of a proper and realistic understanding of the acceptable level of risk to be catered for, in the execution and operation of any Project (Building, Infrastructure, or System).
- Disaster Mitigation requires a clear understanding of the effects of each of the many types of Disasters, and the ability to respond immediately and appropriately to mitigate the effects of each.
- The immediate response to a Disaster should be to mitigate the effects of the Disaster and stabilize the situation at the Disaster location at the soonest. Such a response should be on preplanned lines and will require the proper positioning of suitably trained and equipped personnel.
- The aftermath of a Disaster, once an acceptable level of stability is attained, should be to manage its long term effects and thus should be dealt with by the normal State administration.
- For Terrorism and Accidents, even if more severe than usual, the response teams should normally be from the respective Departments (Railways, Power, Atomic Energy etc) along with the local Police, Fire and administrative authorities. However if the incident / event is such as to require a much stronger response with greater resources than available locally, the NDMF teams or even Military teams and resources can be called upon, as per prior laid down procedures to prevent delays and further escalation of damage.
Disaster – What it is: