When an individual is going through a crisis, they are likely to be in intense danger that requires immediate attention and resolution. Crisis Management involves effectively dealing with, and responding to any disaster that might occur, be it natural or man-made. It demands adequate preparation that enables officials to take immediate action to provide relief.
Keeping in mind its unpredictable nature, it’s crucial to be able to effectively deal with crises on a national and personal level. On its surface, concerns are mainly related to saving lives. However, being able to mentally cope with disasters and adapt to the world after is equally important. This article aims to educate people on crisis management and spread awareness to stress on the seriousness of the subject.
Understanding the effects of Crisis:
Being a victim of any kind of disaster takes a toll on a person’s physical and mental well-being. It can also be responsible for the decreased societal status and living conditions, in case the crisis involves the destruction of financial assets including property. Overall, a crisis decreases the quality of life in some way or the other. During a crisis, a person might experience a wide range of emotions. It can instil fear and anxiety. There is an uncertainty attached to the possibility of survival. If the crisis drags over some time, it can make a person give up hope.
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People are deprived of necessities like food and shelter. Grave distress is caused, and many people lose their lives. Survivors might experience symptoms of PTSD. They might avoid any reminders of the crisis. These people get easily anxious and always have their guard up. They might also exhibit self-destructive behaviour under the pretence of coping with stress. This might include excessive drinking or equally harmful behaviours. Some people experience survivor’s guilt. As a result, they might have constant nightmares about the situation.
Why is Crisis Management Necessary?
If unattended to, a crisis can cause major loss to people and nations. While it is impossible to completely avoid loss, the next best step is to bring it under control. The following are some reasons why effective crisis management is important.
- Saving the lives of those in danger
- Assuring the public of their safety
- Minimizing loss of finances
- Promoting the prevention of diseases
- Improving stability
- Protecting Natural Resources
- Helping in the improvement of mental well-being
In a country like India, a highly diverse range of physical features can be observed. It also has unique geo-climatic conditions. Due to this, the country is one of the most vulnerable to natural disasters in the world. The possibility of man-made disasters only weighs down the country more. Taking into consideration the fact that crisis is usually unpredictable, extreme importance should be given to crisis management, whether it is to prevent the occurrence of the disaster or to recover from the incident. The most recent crisis in India left 41 workers trapped after an under-construction tunnel at Uttarkashi collapsed due to a landslide. It took 17 long days before these workers could be rescued.
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Workers, after being evacuated from the Silkyara side of the tunnel, are now going through headaches and constipation. They are also experiencing anxiety caused by trauma and symptoms of claustrophobia. Not only this but because of the presence of dust and high amounts of silica in the tunnel, the workers are likely to face respiratory problems in the future. They might also be affected by hypoxia due to low oxygen supply. This can affect their pulse rate and blood pressure.
Gaps in Crisis Management:
While efforts are put into effective management of crises, steps fall short when it comes to giving attention to mental health. An online survey was conducted by Public Integrity, CJI and newsrooms across the USA for survivors of natural disasters to share their experiences. More than 230 people responded, and 70% of them were not provided with mental health services. The survey revealed that reasons ranged from insufficient funds to the belief that people did not require help.
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Aside from this, the main limitation is the unpredictability of situations. There cannot be a pre-planned operation for natural crises. This makes it necessary for operations to be planned very quickly. Gaps also come in due to the limited availability of information before the crisis on during its early stages. Sometimes, however, the opposite happens when too much information comes in from all concerned bodies. Further, data regarding crises is not always accurate. Taking into consideration the Uttarkashi Tunnel Incident, only 40 workers were accounted for in the beginning. Later, the data was updated to note that 41 workers were trapped in the tunnel.
India’s Efforts towards Crisis Management:
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) serves as a central body that coordinates all actions taken to deal with any crisis. On 23 December 2005, the Disaster Management Act was established by the government of India. It focuses on building a holistic approach to dealing with crisis, emphasizing strategic partnerships.
Several phases are established about crisis management. This includes the pre-disaster phase which consists of prevention, mitigation and preparedness, as well as a post-disaster phase with a focus on rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery. Under section 44 of the 2005 Act, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was constituted. It consists of 16 battalions, with 1149 personnel in each. These battalions are trained to respond to all disasters, be it natural or man-made.
State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) focuses on ensuring preparedness to deal with crises at a state level. These bodies frame disaster management policies and also ensure the availability of resources. They are responsible for maintaining data on disaster events. The Ministry of Home Affairs, with technical support from UNDP, has also developed an online inventory. Indian Disaster Resource Network is a tool that lets government administrators coordinate emergency operations more quickly.
Considering that 80% of the Indian population resides in regions vulnerable to natural disasters, the nation has invested in Early Warning Systems (EWS) to increase preparedness. There has been a high focus towards improving means of communication. Regular drills are held at organization levels and in all regions.
In the Silkyara Tunnel Rescue Operation, the use of advanced drilling machinery played an important role in the first half of the operations. These machinery were flown in from places like Indore and Delhi. Arnold Dix, President of International Tunneling and Underground Space Association, was also brought to the site to lead operations. Later, experienced rat-hole miners were brought on site before the workers were successfully evacuated. During this period, food and medicine were provided to ensure the survival of the workers.
Being subjected to crisis can be exhausting and can affect people’s lives greatly. You can never be too prepared, and steps should be taken to constantly improve the ability to tackle the crisis. Resources should be ready to use in case it’s needed. It’s not possible to track every crisis that is going to occur, but efforts should be made to prevent it. In the Silkyara Tunnel Incident, the national bodies responsible for disaster management worked constantly to rescue the workers. 17 days is a long time, and maintaining resilience is much harder. Without enough motivation, it wouldn’t be possible for the rescuers to save all 41 workers.
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When faced with a crisis, mental health plays an important role. It’s important to stay calm, prioritize the lives of the people and communicate effectively. Recognizing people in distress and helping them overcome it should be a crucial practice after any disaster. This doesn’t necessarily have to be done by authorities. As a community, you can always come together and extend a hand to help others.