The PG and Research department of Social Work organized a panel discussion on Disaster Management: A Multi Disciplinary Approach, on the 3rd September 2016. Disaster Management has assumed great importance since time unmemorable. The panel discussion was organized primarily to educate the students and other participating professionals about the role played by members of multi Disciplinary team in a disaster scenario and the preventive measures initiated by the government locally and nationally.
The lists of panelists included eminent personalities such as Dr. K. Sekar (Registrar & Head of Psychiatric Social Work, NIMHANS); Dr. Fr. George Kannamthanam (Director, Project Vision); Dr. C.N. Prabhu (Senior Scientist, Karnataka State National Disaster Managing Centre); Dr. Pretesh Kiran, (Community Health Convenor, Disaster Management Cell, St. John’s Medical College Hospital) and Mr. Bansy Kallappa (Senior Correspondent, News 9 Channel, Bengaluru).
The panel discussion commenced with an introductory video of 10 well known natural disasters that struck India in the past 20 decades. The video attempted to sensitize the participants on the impact of disasters on people especially vulnerable sections of the society.
Subsequently, the moderator of the session Dr. K. Sekar initiated the discussion by imparting knowledge on the phases of disaster management namely, preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. Dr. K. Sekar mentioned few of the disasters as examples to facilitate thoughts of participants in understanding their role in disaster management. Dr. K. Sekar reminded the participants to differentiate disaster tourism from professional disaster management and to contemplate on the use of the primary social work methods like case work and group work in the post- disaster scenario. Dr. K. Sekar highlighted the significant role of social workers in providing psychosocial support to the disaster survivors. The introductory session by the moderator was then followed by the individual sessions of the key panelists.
Mr. Bansy Kallappa contributed to the discussion by enlightening the participants on the role of media in disaster management. The speaker mentioned that media is the earliest channel through which people across the world are informed and sensitized about disasters. The authorities are notified about the intensity of the disasters and the efforts in process as part of mitigation. The speaker encouraged the participants to focus on the use of media as information system and resource mobilizer in desperate situations like disasters.
Dr. Fr. George Kannamthanam emphasized on how response to disasters is a civilian responsibility and not solely the responsibility of the government. Fr. George aimed to shed light on the role of a social worker in disaster management and on expecting the unexpected that being disasters. Further the speaker provided the participants with important tips to be kept in mind during disasters which hovered over the following; responding instantly by addressing the immediate needs through innovative ideas, gathering a potential workforce, networking and communicating with other organizations for relief. Fr. George concluded his session by suggesting the initiation of a Disaster Management Cell in Kristu Jayanti College as an attempt to mould responsible human beings.
Dr. C.N. Prabhu represented the Karnataka State National Disaster Managing Centre and imparted knowledge on the role of government in Disaster management. The speaker generalized on the main activities carried out by governments like identifying disaster prone areas and surveillance of these areas. Dr. Prabhu focused on how civilians are responsible to know basic information (like normal temperature, rainfall, seasonality, etc.) of the areas they live in to help them respond and cope with these disasters. Dr. Prabhu introduced the term Creeping hazards that is those disasters that build up over a period of time. The Disaster Managing Centres are responsible to monitor changes or tensions building up in the vulnerable areas and disseminate information of the same.
Dr. Pretesh Kiran represented role of medical relief in the panelists. Dr. Pretesh Kiran threw light on assessing the need for dispatching medical relief team to a disaster struck area, preparing statistics on injury, illness & death, educating disaster survivors on outbreaks of diseases, teaching preventive measures (in case of diseases), provision of basic amenities & disease surveillance . Dr. Pretesh Kiran emphasized on how planning and systematically executing the plan is important in relief work. The speaker also reminded the participants on the various challenges faced by relief team post- disaster which should be accepted. Dr. Pretesh highlighted the importance of psychosocial assistance to the traumatized and prioritizing activities post- disaster based on needs of the survivors. Dr. Pretesh concluded the session by stating that disasters should be seen as an opportunity to re-establish health facilities.
The panel discussion shed light on an approach to redefine problems outside normal boundaries and reach solutions on a new understanding of complex situations. The panel discussion on Disaster Management: A Multi Disciplinary Approach concluded with Rev. Fr. Josekutty P.D. (Principal, Kristu Jayanti College) assuring the panelists that efforts will be taken to initiate a Disaster Management Cell in the college in the near future.