The recent calamities in China left the world quaking. The world has seen worser disasters, no doubt, but in the wake of catastrophes in quick succession, the world over, one cannot help wondering if these ominous signs are a count down to Armageddon!
Over 50,000 people have perished in the recent Chinese earthquake, which devastated the Sichuan province in South -West China. The number is steadily rising, even as reports are pouring in. Several thousands are still lying buried. Fresh tremors and jolts are being felt in other parts of china as well. There is an eerie silence all around Ground Zero.
But unlike in the past, the world can take a peek behind the Red curtain, for an unedited impression of the happenings. For the first time, China is allowing outside help for a domestic need.
Rescue work has been mobilized and several international organizations, like the Red Cross, are at the forefront of the rescue work.
Television footages nakedly display grim realities that alter between bodies being pulled up, shattered buildings, debris, rescue workers, helicopters and ripped -out pathways.
Even the best of preparations can be thrown off-balance. The first few days are vital in mobilizing and providing treatment.
Most of the people who experience an earthquake suffer from physical injuries although it must be noted that the vast majority of them suffer from cuts and bruises, which requires first-aid treatment only. A few suffer from fractures, while only a minority suffers from grievous internal injuries or multiple fractures that require hospitalization and long-term treatment.
Getting trapped under the debris of buildings may result in the crush syndrome in victims. It is a serious medical complication that arises due to unattended traumatic injuries.
Disasters, like earthquakes, sear through the lives of individuals and often take them by surprise. It destabilizes the existing fabric of life and establishes internal pandemonium, chaos and an ever-growing sense of insecurity.
Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS) is very common among individuals who have had to experience a natural calamity. People who have experienced an earthquake feel betrayed and are often overwhelmed by the impact of the disaster. It may take a while for them to revert back on the trail to normal life.
Children tend to harbor a sense of guilt and often require special care and support to get out of the psychological trauma.
Some of the common manifestations of psychological trauma in an adult, post- disaster are:
Short temper and irritability
Depression or chronic sadness
Persistent or recurring headaches
Loss of appetite
Disturbance in sleep pattern/nightmares
Inability to focus or concentrate
Lack of confidence/self-esteem
Increased consumption of alcohol
It does take a while for matters to settle and for life to take a semblance of what it once was.
Certain measures may help an affected individual to come to terms with life. They are -
Talking about the disaster to sympathetic individuals
Crying, if necessary
Taking up a hobby
Practicing relaxation techniques
Getting adequate sleep
Seeking professional help, if every other measure fails
There is a lot of fear regarding epidemics, after a disaster. But these fears are groundless, if the fresh water supply is intact and if the dead bodies are disposed off appropriately.
In China, there are new concerns raising their heads with each rising day. Several hundred dams have been left quivering in the earth quake- hit province. These dams threaten to give way anytime.
There are nuclear facilities located in the disaster- hit area of Sichuan. Not many reports have revealed the status of these high security structures.
There are many concerns regarding the impact of the earthquake on Olympics but, Beijing is far, far away from Sichuan.
Sizing up the situation from the manner in which the authorities are handling the disaster with calm decisiveness, it looks like the Olympics is in safe hands.
Let us hope that China's attempt at true Globalization succeeds!
Dr. REEJA THARU/L