Mock drill to check blast preparedness at Secunderabad

November 27th, 2008 - 12:02 am ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Nov 26 (IANS) Dozens of ‘bodies’ were lying on the ground and several others were ‘writhing in pain’ at Secunderabad railway station here Wednesday after a series of ‘blasts’ as part of a mock drill, an official said.Policemen swung into action to cordon off the area, shifted the ‘bodies’ and the injured as medical teams rushed to render medical aid and undertake evacuation.

The ‘explosions’ between 1.30 p.m. and 3 p.m. took place on platform numbers six and seven and the car park as police vehicles and ambulances with blaring sirens rushed to the railway station.

No, there were no bomb blasts at the crowded railway station. It was only a mock drill aimed at testing the preparedness of the administration, specially the medical emergency mechanism in the city.

The mock drill involving 10 government departments and some private agencies created some panic among passengers and people outside the railway station though authorities announced in advance their plans to conduct the drill.

“Sir, there is a bomb blast on the platform six.” With this message sent by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel to the superintendent of railway station over wireless network, about 600 RPF personnel, the police and various other agencies swung into action for relief and rescue.

It was at 1.30 p.m. that two platforms were rocked by ‘explosions’. Two smoke bombs went off and thick smoke and dust enveloped the area. There were cries as ‘people’ ran in panic.

As the smoke and dust cleared, `gory scenes’ were witnessed. There was ‘blood’ all over and ‘bodies’ with ‘bleeding’ and ‘burn’ injuries were lying on the ground. Seconds later another ‘blast’ rocked the area.

Ten minutes after the ‘blasts’, the first ambulance reached the scene to shift the injured to hospitals. The district administration used 35 ambulances in the drill.

Emergency Medical Research Institute (EMRI) played a major role in the mass casualty management and contributed 250 personnel and eight ambulances to the exercise.

As the police and medical teams were handling the situation, the car park area of the station was rocked by yet another ‘blast’.

National Disaster Management Authority vice-chairman and former army chief N.C. Vij and member Sashidhar Reddy were present during the exercise.

“The entire idea was how we should be prepared to face any contingency. This kind of happening is quite a possibility and you cannot prepare ever unless you practice for them in the non-actual situation,” said Vij.

The former army chief said this was second drill in the country to deal with a mass casualty situation. “It was mainly to test medical evacuation and hospital care,” he said.

The NDMA has already conducted 40 drills to deal with different natural and man made disasters.

Sashidhar Reddy said the drill would help in removing the shortcomings in the emergency response mechanism noticed during the last year’s bomb blasts in Hyderabad.

A bomb blast at the historic Mecca Masjid May 18 last year killed nine people. Two near simultaneous blasts at a public park and a popular eatery Aug 25 claimed 43 lives.

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