Gujarat, India, 16 March 2018 – In collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority under the Government of India, the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority, and district-level partners in Surendranagar, Rajkot and Gandhinagar, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat undertook a large-scale disaster simulation exercise to respond to an emergency situation related to earthquakes.
The simulation exercise tested the Government and agencies response skills through a real time unfolding series of events, with responders split over three sites. In response to a call from the national Emergency Operation Centre following an earthquake, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat dispatched 16 dedicated and trained members from its Search and Rescue and Disaster Assessment and Response teams to Surendranagar, 20 to Rajkot and 5 to Gandhinagar. In Surendranagar, the teams carried out post-disaster assessment and search and rescue operations in a high-rise building, along with a battalion of the Indian Army and the State Fire Brigade services. The operation resulted in the rescue of six causalities in a shopping mall and five at the District Collectorate building. In Rajkot, the response received support from the District Health Department through mass causality management, transportation and first aid to disaster victims. In Gandhinagar, rescue operations were undertaken in partnership with the State Fire Brigade Services.
This was the first instance in which the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat collaborated with the Indian Army, Fire Brigade, Police, Civil Defense, Home Guard, Public Works Department and other emergency response agencies with deployment of its full capacity in carrying out search and rescue operations. The disaster management authorities and other response agencies expressed their appreciation for its effective and timely responses, especially in a scenario involving total breakdown of communication lines and public infrastructure. The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat will continue to work in close coordination with the Government of India to address any gaps identified during the simulation exercise, and to continue to implement its mandate to build institutional and community resilience and emergency management capacity in India.