1. Why emergency response?

Since response mechanism in brief at one place is not available especially for the event of chemical (industrial) disaster, hence this module provides an insight view to administration for quick response. This module is amalgam of provisions made by the Ministry of Environment and Forests under Environment (Protection) Act 1986 and the initiatives taken by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The module provides brief structure for implementing the district level response action and operational coordination for all types of industrial (chemical) accidents. Response mechanism defines basic roles, responsibilities and operational concepts for response across all levels of Government, NGOs and the private sector. The overarching objective of response activities centres upon saving lives and protecting property and the environment.

Presently the status of response mechanism is as:

  1. Lack of accountability because of ad-hoc and emergent nature of arrangements and no prior training for effective performance;
  2. Lack of an orderly and systematic planning process;
  3. Unclear chain of command and supervision of response activity;
  4. Lack of proper communication, inefficient use of available resources, use of conflicting codes and terminology and no prior communication plan;
  5. Lack of predetermined method / system to effectively integrate inter-agency requirements into the disaster management structures and planning process;

Different disasters require different types of expertise for response. Thus, in case of rescue and relief in natural disaster, it will generally be the local Police and the NDRF / SDRF, in case of Fire it will be the Fire department, in case of drought it will be theAgriculture department, in case of Epidemics and other Biological disasters it will be the Health department, while in case of chemical/industrial disaster along with Police, Health and Fire departments will have to play the lead role and the remaining departments will have to play the supporting role as per requirement and their core competencies. The Chief Coordinator at the district level is District Collector with the support from various departments.

  1. Lack of coordination between the first responders and individuals, professionals and NGOs with specialised skills during the response phase; and
  2. Lack of use of common terminology for different resources resulting in improper requisitioning and inappropriate resource mobilisation etc.

In view of the paradigm shift towards improved pre-disaster preparedness, there is an urgent need for a proper and a well prepared response system which would have:

  • Well thought out pre-designated roles for each member of the response team;
  • Systematic and complete planning process;
  • System of accountability for the IRT (Incident response team) members;
  • Clear cut chain of command;
  • Effective resource management;
  • Proper and coordinated communication set up;
  • System for effectively integrating independent agencies into the planning and command structure without infringing on the independence of the concerned agencies; and
  • Integration of community resources in the response effort.

Figure 1:
Response doctrine with the four pillars knowledge, experience, skills and attitude can be made effective.

The following five key principles of operations define response mechanism:

 
  1. Engaged partnership
  2. Tiered response
  3. Scalable, flexible, and adaptable operational capabilities
  4. Unity of effort through unified command
  5. Readiness to act

The Disaster Management Act 2005 is umbrella act and describes the instruments and mechanism for all types of the disasters. For chemical (industrial) emergency, provisions have been made through Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals (MS and IHC) Rules 1989 and Chemical Accidents (Emergency planning, preparedness and response) (CAEPPR) Rules 1996 under the Environment (Protection) Act 986 and line ministry is Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), GOI. The module describes the initiatives of NDMA and the MOEF so that in real crisis the response mechanism should be effective through amalgamation.

 

 
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