We will deal with people attacking emergency responders – LASG

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Lagos State Government has vowed to henceforth deal ruthlessly with people who attacked state emergency responders during disaster or emergency situation in the state.

Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, Dr. Wale Ahmed issued out this warning at a Retreat for officers of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, held in Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria recently.

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He said it was disheartening that people at incidence scene would attack emergency responders in uniform simply because they did not come on time or even lynched officers, saying that was not acceptable.

“We will henceforth deal with people assaulting government officials,” he said, while also bemoaning the huge crowd that normally throng disaster scenes, thus hindering rescue operation.

He said if people expected quick response, they must give way for emergency responders to respond on time during emergency cases.

Ahmed also called for synergy between LASEMA and other emergency responders for seamless operation and effectiveness.

Director General, LASEMA, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the theme of the retreat, which is “LASEMA’s Expectations and Challenges, Working better Together,” was very auspicious and provided a much needed platform to reiterate the obvious need for a reinforced partnership and better cohesion within members of staff and between all stakeholders involved in the emergency management services of Lagos State.

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“Cohesion among staff is very key to achieving all-round success by LASEMA with its staff strength of less than one hundred and fifty personnel providing extremely sensitive and crucial, life-saving services to an estimated Lagos population of over 23.5 million people. This means its staff must not only be well trained with skills horned to the nines for optimal performance, “LASEMA staff must as a matter of survival, be well bonded to think and act as ONE especially during operations knowing that during emergencies, every second counts.

“It is therefore suffice to say that this summit, will afford us an opportunity of in-depth review and plan for all the various Departments, Units as well as all staff of LASEMA, to strengthen our collective roles in the prevention, preparedness, management, mitigation, response and recovery in emergencies and disasters such as incessant collapsed buildings, road traffic and articulated vehicles accidents, flooding, fire outbreaks and a host of other man-made disasters in the State since emergencies and disasters by nature are unforeseen and sudden occurrences with inflicted knock-backs that are usually deadly, devastating and terrible psycho-physical effects on the afflicted areas and it’s residents,” he explained.

Oke-Osanyintolu said there was therefore an urgent need to achieve maximum cohesion among staff for optimal performance despite all extraneous challenges by “Working Better Together” to achieve a lean, fast and effective emergency management agency.

“I make haste to state the obvious, that it is a herculean task for a staff of less than 150 people to care for the sensitive and life saving needs of an ever increasing estimated population of over 23.5 million others. As daunting as it appears, I state here clearly by claims supported by empirical evidence, that it is a miracle that is already happening in Lagos due to the ability of staff to work together with a single focus, on a single goal.

“Disaster management around the world is usually a joint effort of relevant Stakeholders and with the active support of communities and the entire populace towards protection of lives and properties. This protection extends to even the emergency responders as it should exclude hostilities to responders during Recoveries or Search and Rescue operations,” he stated.

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According to him, this year’s theme was in the spirit of continuation of promoting positive working relationships and the culture of cohesion among staff that would spiral into bonding in job performance, ease of work within and between Units/Departments to breed more confidence on the job, and between colleagues without delineations, leading eventually to optimal performance that will positively affect disaster reduction, prevention, mitigation and preparedness.

He said being a cosmopolitan city, the challenges confronting residents in Lagos State were various and numerous, as Lagosians face daily exposure to increasing vehicular density and traffic accidents, high industrial concentration and its concomitant smoke and effluent pollution, fire outbreaks, flooding, collapse buildings and other sundry emergencies.

“These challenges have necessitated that LASEMA raise the tempo of its operations across the state in order to provide effective, prompt and efficient disaster management support to residents of Lagos,” he said.

According to him, “the whole idea behind this retreat, is to for us to brain storm on how to ensure cohesion among staff and by extension, bring disaster risk reduction to the barest minimum since the impact of any emergency is to the community where it occurred knowing that Lagos State as a mega city with high population density and peculiar topography, as well as high concentration of industries, has become vulnerable to many types of disaster, especially the man-made ones, like collapsed building and tanker accidents with accompanying fire.

“Based on this realization, it is only wise that a solid foundation should be laid for effective emergency/disaster management at the community level. And also ensures that our communities and the grassroots people become sufficiently equipped, sensitized and enlightened on issues of emergencies/disasters prevention, response and management.”

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