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Ya'an: Lessons applied to new quake zone

Updated: 2013-05-09 14:40
(China Daily)

Rescuers, local governments and schools benefit from the experience of five years ago.

Ya'an: Lessons applied to new quake zone

Liao Defen, 32, takes care of her 4-month-old at a camp in Lingguan town.

Mianyang Center for Disease Control deputy director Zhou Yun has learned from his experience in disaster-struck areas. Zhou, who rushed to Lushan county 12 hours after the quake on April 20, 2013, says the disease-control measures after the 2008 Wenchuan arthquake set a good standard for Lushan. “Controlling the spread of iseases caused by disasters needs not only professionals like us but also other government departments, such as police and transport. In this sense, local governments must coordinate different units to better facilitate our work,” he says.

Zhou participated in his first major disaster relief operation in 2008 when he monitored disease control operations in Beichuan county, one of the places most seriously affected by the Wenchuan earthquake.

In Beichuan, Zhou and his team learned the importance of sterilizing survivor camps. The fourth day after an earthquake, he says, is the best time for sterilization, because rescuing survivors must be the first three days' focus.

"Quake-hit areas are prone to heavy downpours and even snow," Zhou says.

"Every single place must be thoroughly cleansed to prevent infectious diseases."

The Wenchuan earthquake also raised public awareness of the importance of psychological recovery after major catastrophes.

Before the trip to Beichuan, Zhou and his colleagues had never thought psychological assistance was of much importance. In this year's earthquake, Zhou's team included five psychologists, who worked with local residents from the beginning.

When Baoxing county's students resumed classes after the recent earthquake, they received counseling from professionals and local teachers, says Zhu Shenyue, an official from the county's education department.

"We see the importance of timely psychological guidance," Zhu says, adding that students' mental health will be closely observed for a while.

Sichuan province sits atop an area highly vulnerable to earthquakes, so it's necessary to make the psychological counseling work regular, he adds.

Zhu admits that five years ago, they had focused on students' studies. But psychological problems emerged when the students returned to school.

"Some were frightened or traumatized and couldn't focus on their studies," he recalls.

"Others became depressed and had no interest in making long-term plans."

The county had no professional psychologists then. The local education department sent 25 teachers to be trained and they have been observing students' psychological state and providing help when needed.

Wang Dawu, now Lushan's top political adviser, says he remembered the losses in Lushan county five years ago, when he was the deputy county head. He says the county didn't ask for help from the soldiers, making the cleanup and reconstruction a long and slow process.

"This year, the county government turned to military forces that had come to our aid. The soldiers in the Chengdu Military Command Area will stay at least one month to clean the ruins and help rebuild homes," he says.

Ji Xu, a political instructor of a company of the Chengdu Military Command Area, says his soldiers were specifically assigned to help Wangjia village in Longmen township.

"Our camp has been moved to a riverbank in the village so that we can save some time to explore more properties and better distribute food, quilts and other materials," Ji says.

"This increases efficiency."

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