Earthquake Response Simulation – practicing what to do to help people

What do humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross do during an emergency? How do humanitarian agencies and the Nepali government work together to ensure that people get the help they need? We participated in an earthquake emergency response simulation in Chautaura, Sindhuplachok with the Norwegian Red Cross.

Emergency response through the lens of a camera

Equipped with cameras we covered rescuers and first aiders saving people from a burning house, a collapsing building and providing the wounded with first aid before the persons were carried to the medical facilities for further check-ups and help. Red Crossers were in many roles, some providing first aid, others coordinating to ensure people got help from first aiders while other Red Crossers worked on building and providing shelters.

Coordination to best meet the needs of earthquake affected

The cluster emergency simulation was constantly coordinated by the governmental and humanitarian agencies such as Red Cross, Save the Children, UNICEF, OXFAM among others. Children played in the child friendly zone, and women could get information regarding prevention of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) at the female friendly space. There were also tents for shelter, first aid, WASH, food and agriculture, livelihood and a medical tent.

Humanitarian agencies and the Nepal government must coordinate their response with each other during a disaster. The emergency plan should be rehearsed and practiced to better ensure that the response and coordination works in reality. The emergency response simulation opened up for identifying strengths and weaknesses on the implementation of the plan that can be improved upon.

A plan of action

When an earthquake happens it is not time for humanitarian organizations to figure out what to do.  And earthquakes will happen again in Nepal. Therefore government and humanitarian agencies must be prepared with a plan for emergency response to help people. As it can take some time before external support reaches Nepal from outside, and internal support reaches all the affected areas it essential that an emergency response plan is in place that is based on the available in-country capacity according to a report by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee.

A Earthquake Contingency plan has been prepared by the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT). “The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) is the Government’s lead agency for coordinating disaster preparedness and response. International and national organizations coordinate and augment response efforts through MoHA, and particularly through the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC)” states the contingency plan dated February 2016.

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