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Report of Relief Work Done at Vondh (Tal. Bhachau Dist Bhuj) From January 31st to February 6th, 2001

Vondh is a small village of 3000 - 4000 people situated 4-5 kms from Bachau. 10-15% of the entire population lost their lives and all the buildings in this village were razed to ground. Our medical team took over from a team of private medical practitioners who were packing up.

When we reached, the camp was a make shift structure held up by bamboo and covered on all sides with plastic sheets. The operation tables were two desks put together and covered with another clean sheet, if available. There was no dearth of medicines and dressing materials.

There were instruments to perform small surgical procedures such as suturing, fitting casts and slabs. We extended the existing structure by raising a few more tents and covering the entire area from all sides as we were facing the problem of dust. Our team consisted of 2 Ortho, 2 Anaesthetists, 2 General surgeons, the team co-ordinator, 1 male staff nurse & 1 general assistant.

We were accompanied by the sponsoring organization UTV who put up tents for us with Generators and extra instruments and helped us in our medical work at the camp.

Our day would start at around 8' clock and continue till around 8pm. In between we would take turns to bathe. Meals were generally had together with the entire village in the community kitchen. The community kitchen had been set up by people from Gondal, a place in Saurashtra. They not only served the people in the village but also employed them for cutting vegetables, preparing rotis. This helped to keep them occupied and dwell a little less on their losses.

The nights were very cold with temperatures dropping to 3 degrees celsius. The people of the village would build a campfire for us and we would sit around it and talk to the villagers /head.

Our medical work consisted mainly of draining abscesses (3 under general anaesthesia), cleaning & dressing of wounds, debridements, treating cough and cold, fever, treating post partum women ; 20 suturing of old wounds fixing casts/slabs. Several fractures were identified. We would also go on field visits to treat people. On an average we treated about 125 - 150 patients daily as people from surrounding villages knew of the camp.

The people came to the camp using various means of transport like handcarts, bullockcarts, tractors and some thing called a "CHAKADO" which is a 'Bullet' motorbike attached with a wooden cart with big wheels behind.

The village had a good amount of relief material coming in from various NGO's /G.O. passing by the road. Other important thing to be noticed was that the RSS'and the army provided a lot of assistance in setting up the camps. We had enough medical supplies and a lot of relief agencies would come daily to ask if we required anything specifically . Medically at present the need is to treat wounds in the form of cleaning and dressing, and people come with their medical problems like treatment of DM, HT, Koch's and convulsions. As such there is no medical emergency. Most of the work is Cold orthopaedic work which needs to be referred to proper hospital at district level.

Presently the medical requirements can be met by sending a team of interns supervised by a orthopaedic surgeon/ General surgeon. Our team should be able to phase out within 2 months and encourage their district hospitals to take over.

Baed on my experience at this site, I would like to comment on a few things.

1. We are equipped to do good voluntary service for various disasters but there is a lot of scope for improvement. For one, we should be completely prepared to send our team completely equipped with tents / sleeping material for the members, food and water andmedical supplies. One vehicle should be dispatched with a Satellite phone so that there is constant communication with the centre. Disasters strike suddenly and take us unawares. We as medical people can help only in a limited way. But the immediate requirements of people now are:

1) Shelter: tents for now and later reconstruction of their houses.

2) Food

3) Starting of basic infrastructure

i) Hospitals at local level.
ii) Schools for children

4) Livelihood

i) Rehabilitate the home industries( Craftsmen & Artisan)
ii) Help them resume their previous occupations.

More info

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