In a proactive drive to manage disaster and emergencies in the country the Office of National Security in collaboration with key stakeholders yesterday presented the first emergency preparedness course and simulation exercise with the view of galvanizing efforts in mitigating disaster threat in the country.
“Disaster simulation exercises are often done by institutions and national government to determine the level of preparedness of stakeholder institutions when disasters occur” the Chief of Staff of ONS Lawrence Bassie said.
He stated that the session was intended to identify challenges, weaknesses and lessons which must be used to help develop standard operational procedures for effective response to large scale disaster.
“The tragedy of a major emergency or disaster is compounded when health facilities are inadequate or dysfunctional and when a hospital collapsed or its function are disrupted, lives that depend on emergency care can be lost within a twinkle of an eye” he said.
Interruptions in routine services he stated can also have a devastating effect, pointing out that the scale of disaster the world over is already massive and in 2008 more than 200 million people around the world were affected by disasters.
He said the session was laudable for all stakeholders including medical practitioners as people count on hospitals to respond swiftly and efficiently during disasters to save lives.
He said complex emergencies, such as those caused by wind, storm or flood in some countries have led to the loss of 50% of their hospital capacity, right at the time when lifer-saving services are most acutely needed.
He said hospitals and health facilities represent a significant investment, and by keeping them safe in emergencies protects the investment, while also protecting the health and safety of the people who constitute the main target beneficiaries.
In his keynote address the head of accident and emergency at the Connaught hospital Dr. Andrew Moana, said disasters are events that resulted into serious disruption of functioning of society or community thereby resulting in widespread human, material or environmental losses.
He explained that there are ‘man made and natural disasters’ that are characterized by causes that exceed the ability or capacity of the affected society or community to cope if it were to use its own resources.
He confirmed that Sierra Leone is not immune to any of the man-made and natural disasters.
The Chief Fire Force Officer Mr. Kamanda -Bongay said the session would help strengthen coordination and collaboration among the various stakeholders to minimize the occurrence of disaster in the country.
Surgeons Overseas SOS T. Peter Kingham stressed the need for a coordinated and collaborative effort in order to handle national security threat.
By Solomon Rogers