The High Level Committees Report on Disaster Management over Indian Railway in April 2003 analyzed various aspects of the present Disaster Management system and pointed out current shortfalls and limitations such as lack of precision, speed and co-ordination, non-availability of clear procedures to avail of outside resources and absence of an updated Data Bank containing non-railway resources etc. Important measures suggested by the High Level Committee bring forth :
(i)Need for preparation of Zonal/Divisional Disaster Management Plans;
(ii)Defining responsibilities of various staff/departments;
(iii)Maintenance of ARMVs/ARTs for providing failure free service;
(iv)Definite medical care within the Golden Hour;
(v)Making use of non-railway resources; and
(vi)Organizing effective Trauma Care, etc.
The Committee has also emphasised import of reaching and extracting accident victims and for organizing effective trauma care at the earliest, particularly as a critical trauma patient is provided definitive medical care within first hour from the time of accident, chances of his ultimate recovery gets enhanced manifold and hence laid down concept of the Golden Hour, viz. the first hour after the accident. For being effective, any Disaster Management System must aim at stabilizing maximum number of grievously injured persons and to reach them to hospitals for further attention.
In case of any disaster, railway rescue and relief team may take sometime to reach the accident site, depending upon the distance. Therefore it is necessary that we organize an effective and dependable system whereby railway staff on-board the accident involved train, as also railway personnel from nearby stations can organise rapid access to accident site, quick aextraction of victims and on-site medical attention and speedy transportation to hospitals etc. Essence of this approach lies with ready requisition of help for rescue work from local sources before railways rescue teams arrive. Past experience has shown that such local networks can be an effective source of rushing timely assistance especially with regard to medical succor, rescue equipment, additional manpower, transport services, lighting arrangements etc.
NCR Plan for Disaster Management hence inter-alia also aims to address this aspect by identifying specific duties both for Instant Action Team consisting of railways on-board staff, as also for First Responders consisting of local sources from near by areas. Guidelines for immediate action by railway staff, the role of various departments and the basic framework for organizing efficient Rescue and Relief Operations have been enumerated in this Plan.
I shall like that all officers and staff should enjoin to thoroughly familiarise themselves with guidelines outlined in the NCR Plan for Disaster Management. While we earnestly hope that we may never be required to invoke provisions of this Plan, nevertheless it is worth remembering that more we prepare and drill ourselves in these related aspects, greater are the chances of rendering expeditious and effective rescue operations during any untoward incident or disaster.