A week-long preparedness and emergency management exercise, “Guwahati Emergency Management Exercise (GEMEx)” was held in Guwahati between October 29 and November 4, 2012. The exercise was designed to harness the strengths and capabilities of the State emergency responders, educational institutions, hospitals and humanitarian agencies etc. in their effort to meet any possible disaster in the city.
ASDMA conducted the exercise in collaboration with the District Disaster Management Authority, Kamrup Metro, National Disaster Management Authority, Government of India and with the support of United Nations Children’s’ Fund. The exercise was carried out in association with a number of leading Private and Humanitarian Institutions and International faculty.
The programme involved a week long learning and capacity building exercise with fifteen parallel tracks at different venues of Guwahati City. Various learning tracks being included in GEMEx were:
||Basic & Advanced Disaster Life Support
||Chemical and Industrial Disaster Preparedness
||Community Based Relief and Public Health
||Comprehensive Trauma Life Support (Nurses & Doctors)
||Coordination of Response for Senior Govt. Representative
||Emergency Medical Services
||Emergency Nursing Care
||Engineers on Earthquake Safety
||Higher Education Preparedness
||Hospital Emergency Management
||Incident Response System
||Multi- sectorial Need Assessment in Emergencies
||School Disaster Preparedness
||Search and Rescue
||Minimum Initial Service Package
A total of 1013 participants attended the various tracks of the exercise. As many as 70 international and national faculties imparted the trainings in their respective areas.
After the conduct of the week long learning and capacity building exercises, the participants of the various tracks were brought together for a Table-Top exercise. The exercise facilitated a brainstorming on simulated scenarios of emergencies and the different ways to respond the situation. The participants of each track came forward with their own response mechanisms which were facilitated by the remarks of the faculties. It was an attempt to reveal the strengths and gaps in inter-agency communication and discrepancies and overlaps in response planning among the various stake holders.
It brought together response agencies viz. Fire, Police, NDRF and EMS, along with heads of hospitals, Doctors, Nurses and non-governmental organizations to a single platform providing an opportunity for all of the stake holders to work together for responding to a city disaster.
The brainstorming led to the groundwork for the drill simulated on November 3rd, 2012 at Assam Engineering Institute Field, Guwahati. A real-time simulation/drill of a mass casualtywas carried out with four mock drill scenarios viz. earthquake at St. Angel’s High School, fire at Assam Petrochemical Ltd., terrorist attack at Assam Secretariat and earthquake at Heritage complex.
As in a real situation, responding to the incident, city’s response agencies were alerted and police, fire, NDRF and EMS responded to the situation. Over 200 victims injured in the disasters were rushed to the hospitals in an attempt to test their emergency management plans. A triage area was set up at the site of the “disaster” and all injured were triaged, applying the skills learnt during the training sessions.Every single victim triaged was monitored by local evaluators trained at GEMEx. The victims were coded with colours like red, yellow, green and black. They were transported by GVK EMRI 108 Ambulance Service to Guwahati Medical College, MMCH, Downtown Hospital, GNRC Hospital, International Hospital, Army base Hospital and Hayat Hospital with realistic time delays built into the system.
At each hospital, the hospital emergency plan were set into motion, and doctors, nurses, pharmacies, and equipment were mobilized to accommodate the additional flow.Doctors trained at GEMEx 2012 ran the casualty wards applying their trauma care skills to patient care.
The entire exercise involved approx.1500 persons from different field viz. NDMA, UNICEF, ASDMA, NDRF, District administration etc. including the participants of 15 tracks of capacity building.
The week-long exercise culminated in a lesson learnt workshop on November 4, 2012, where all the participants assembled to make an appraisal of what went right and what went wrong. The lessons learnt during the various tracks also helped to identify the gaps in our strengths and capabilities of emergency response including inter agency communication and co-ordination.
This was first ever mega-exercise of this type to be conducted in the North East, in the country to be held after Mumbai and Chennai