May 1, 2015
Yesterday, I attended a briefing at Nepal Army (NA) Headquarters, presented by Maj. Gen. Binoj Basnyet, who is coordinating the army’s disaster relief operation “Sankat Mochan” (loosely translated as “solving the crisis”).
The clear-cut information provided by the five speakers was in stark contrast to the governmental press releases and interviews, which seem defensive and short on details. Nepal Army has always led the way in Nepal, in terms of professionalism, dedication and discipline.
The briefing was divided into four sections:
2. Multinational effort: MNMCC (Multinational Military Coordination Center)
3. Medical Aspects
Phase 1: Immediate response – what transpired immediately after the 7.8 earthquake shook Nepal. In the first 24 hours, NA utilized five helicopters (the extent of available aircraft in the first day) and conducted 65 missions.
Phase 2: Coordinating Rescue and Relief. On the second day after the earthquake the Indian National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) brought into Nepal an additional 6 helicopters and conducted 29 missions. Air assessment missions were conducted by both NA and NDRF to see which areas were hardest hit so that the NA could begin the process of prioritizing.
Phase 3: Current Recovery operations, which include multi-day long range patrol and air assessment, focusing on rescue and relief operations, further mobilization (of personnel located in areas not affect by the earthquake), SAR (search and rescue), addressing collapsed structures, Medivac and blood donation drives, creating temporary shelters, designating camp areas (which had been pre-designated during the last two years), provision of essential services (food, water, shelter, sanitation) and recovering dead bodies.
MULTINATIONAL EFFORT COORDINATION (MNMCC)
As of yesterday, there are now 25 countries participating in Operation Sankat Mochan.
Countries include, India, China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Bangladesh, Israel, Netherlands, Bhutan, Poland, USA, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, France, Spain, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Belgium, Russia, Norway, UK, Switzerland, Germany and UAE. India leads the countries in personnel with 962 and China comes in second with 370. Israel has set up the biggest field hospital, located in Kathmandu, but they have also brought in search and rescue teams, including dogs. Many of these missions are military but others are conducted by civilians.
Immediately after the earthquake, the Nepal Army Hospital evacuated 200-300 inpatients receiving treatment. And almost immediately, outpatients began to pour in. First response was provided. Tents were set up to accommodate the inflow of injured. The evening of the earthquake, the NA addressed the extent of civilian casualties and injuries, but it also addressed injuries, which had been incurred within the army itself. The NA also set up a record-keeping plan that included patients received, patients discharged and other details including OT, victims who had been heli-lifted and deaths.
The following day the Nepal Army Medical Corps and multinational groups began the air-lifting missions, bringing victims to the NA hospital. Small medical teams were deployed to affected areas. A field hospital, outside the Kathmandu Valley, was set up.
It became apparent that most of the injured suffered from orthopedic problems.
To address public health concerns, the NA, (in coordination with the Ministry of Health), and medical teams started providing and dispersing sanitation, water and medicine.
In the first 72 hours, SAR and medical teams were deployed to affected areas and set up field hospitals.
After the first 72 hours the army has provided human resources, transportation and security for protecting the relief materials.
Airport coordination is conducted by the Airport Coordination Center (ACC). This includes off-loading supplies, transporting supplies to warehouses and securing these supplies for the distributors. The NA has also provided materials from their own war-stock including to date 2110 blankets, 795 tents, and 40 tons of food items.
There are several logistic limitations recognized by the NA
1) There is an inadequate number of military vehicles, in part because of earthquake damage.
2) Although civilian vehicles are available to help, few drivers are coming forward to volunteer.
3) There is a lack of heavy equipment such as fork lifts to help remove rubble.
4) Damage of army infrastructure has slowed down the process.
5) Relief materials security needs to be improved.
6) Loss of assets including ammunition depot, barracks, armories and military vehicles (25-30% of the military vehicles have been damaged) has slowed down the operation.
To view video of OPERATION SANKAT MOCHAN