Sunday, September 16, 2007

Another Disaster - Relief is just pathetic

Just about a week ago a bridge under construction came down in Hyderabad. I was at that point of time about 200 yards away from where it happened - I was stuck in a traffic jam. Its sinister to think that if it was not for that traffic jam I would have been very very close to the accident spot. What happened was that the scaffolding of the bridge gave way and the beams that the scaffolding was holding up came crashing down on the motorists on the busy road. 13 such beams each weighing 40 tons came down. Its Gods blessing that it was a sunday and it was raining that 2 people lost their lives.

Bad enough the accident happened but what was shocking is that the injured in the accident were able to get to a hospital barely a kilometer away from the accident spot only after 2 hours due to the traffic blocking the traffic. Why is that if a politician is coming on a road they can clear it in a matter of minutes but when it comes to clearing the roads for an ambulance does not evoke the same response. We need to learn how to manage disasters - it is not that the police can't do it, they just don't do it.

I have seen ambulances stuck in traffic for precious minutes - neither the cops manning the traffic junctions or the people in the way show any inclination to give way to the ambulance. The traffic was once stopped for a VVIP and there was an ambulance blaring in the stopped traffic and the cop who stopped the traffic just did not care about the ambulance he just made it wait till the VVIP passed. The public need to understand that one day it may be one of them in that situation losing precious minutes in an ambulance stuck in traffic.

Another thing that distressed me is seeing the hundreds and hundreds of people at the accident spot doing nothing but just standing around and gawking at the scene. As part of disaster management we should learn to clear out the effected area so that the people who can help can do their job efficiently and quickly. The politicians should learn that they visiting the spot soon after the accident does not help anyone. Neither do they have the specialization to deal with the situation and they also throw everything out of whack due to their own security and the hundreds of people that follow them everywhere. When will we learn and improve and understand that in an accident the most important people are the victims and we should be doing everything in our power to help them.

What I have realised is that we are not learning from incidents that have happened and improve on it. Every time we have a disaster its the same story.

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