A team of State Disaster Relief Force ready for action amid COVID-19 lockdown in Kohima, Nagaland Credit: EastMojo image

Kohima: With the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 15 emergency responders of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) home guards and civil defence team, dressed in bright orange suits, have been taking to the streets of Nagaland capital Kohima to ensure that people maintain social distancing while coming out to buy necessary essential goods. The team also aids the municipal body’s sanitation workers to disinfect the town.

Amid the lockdown, the SDRF team in Kohima swung into action on Saturday, marking circles outside the essential goods stores and public places for people to practise social distancing during marketing hours, in an effort to combat the spread of the deadly COVID-19. During the early hours the next day, the team sprayed disinfectants across all strategic locations in Kohima, targeting all public spaces such as traffic points, pathway railings, bus stands, foot overbridges, and so on.

The team sprays disinfectants across all strategic locations including public spaces such as traffic points, pathway railings, bus stands and foot overbridges

Speaking with EastMojo, Keneigutuo Richard, who is currently leading the team, said that uncertainty looms over future possibilities and it is a challenging task to respond to emergency situations with little knowledge.

“But the lack of equipment, funds, workforce, and so on are bigger challenges in time of multiple emergency situations. For most of us, to be able to serve the people, irrespective of the gravity of the emergency situation, is challenging and gratifying,” Richard said.

Directed by the Kohima Municipal Council (KMC), these forces are rendering their services for the current COVID-19 public health crisis.

As emergency responders, when asked how he prepares himself mentally and physically to tackle situation, Richard said: “Before attending to any emergency calls, one has to stay alert and keep a clear mind. The best preparedness to handle emergency situation is a lot of practice as it helps avoid chaos. It is also helpful in times of any emergency response situations.

While knowledge is essential, he said that being thorough with the practical aspect of responding to emergency situation is also equally important.

The team has also been marking circles outside stores selling essential goods and public places for people to practise social distancing

To be working on the frontline during emergency crisis is not an easy job but refusing a job at emergency crisis is not even an option for the team.

“As a disaster response team, we can perform arduous tasks if we are asked to do it. But our safety is also a concern as any slacking could prove lethal. No matter the risk of the situations, the phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ always encourages me to go ahead,” he added.

When there is no emergency situation, these forces are often engaged in conducting training and awareness events on disaster management cutting across schools, colleges, wards, villages, and so on to spread mass awareness on how to respond in times of disaster.

“Being a helpless witness to an emergency situation can potentially worsen the situation. So the knowledge of disaster management is invaluable for all residents as it enables people to survive a dreaded situation. Lastly, a small act of change now can make a big different in the future,” Richard concluded.

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