Karachi a city by the sea, where earthquake tremors aren’t uncommon, has a nuclear power plant with two more under construction. It has scores of multistory buildings with many skyscrapers in advanced stages of construction. However the city has only 30 odd fire trucks, a few hundred ambulances, 3 major government hospitals, 3 burns hospitals and a morgue capacity of no more than a couple of hundred.
Just thinking about it makes one numb. It gets worse when you know that the country has witnessed several massive natural disasters in the past decade and each event has exposed the lack of Disaster Management Preparedness.
To say the situation is bleak is at best putting it mildly, it is criminal neglect on part of the authorities for failing to provide adequate equipment and infrastructure to manage routine incidents let alone disasters.
In a major terrorist incident in early 2013 the number of casualties though around a 100 put an immense strain on the city morgues.
The average time for an ambulance to reach a patient is anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour thereafter add the time to transfer to a hospital. In the absence of dedicated traffic lanes for emergency vehicles many a times patients have suffered severe consequences of delayed access to medical service.
A detailed report by a former Fire Chief of the city on the state of the Fire Department; stated that at a very minimum the city needs ten times the number of existing fire trucks.
Another major gap is the lack of information sharing, education and awareness on what people can do to prepare themselves for disasters. If anything a prepared city would help reduce potential scale of disaster.
As a trained urban search and rescue volunteer with disaster management experience am looking forward to the upcoming Pakistan Urban Forum conference. The government must implement easy solutions to help prevent this disaster in the making.