Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

mumbaiVOICES – Online Disaster Analysis and Recommendations by the Community

In light of today’s tragic events in Mumbai, I’d like to highlight the efforts of mumbaiVOICES, an online disaster analysis created as a result of 11 July 2006.

In the wake of a disaster, “ordinary citizens find very few avenues to express their feelings, when it is in fact they – the lay bystanders, the rush hour commuters, the slum dwellers, the taxi-drivers — who have been at the frontlines of the disaster response.” mumbaiVOICES broke away from expert analysis to explore the stories of ordinary people on the street, on the railway platform, in the hospital ward, in the taxi-cab, to discover what they saw, what they recognized as strengths, and what they thought needed improvement.

mumbaiVOICES is the result of a unique partnership between Mumbai citizens and professionals from the fields of medicine, public health, disaster management, economics, urban planning, and computer science, from India and abroad, who created a website and collaborated to analyse findings and create recommendations. Satchit Balsari, MD, MPH helped create mumbaiVOICES with colleagues.

“On July 11th, 2006, the city of Mumbai bore witness to terrifying human tragedy. A series of seven explosions killed at least 200 people on crowded commuter trains and stations. All seven blasts came within an 11-minute span, between 6:24 and 6:35 p.m. In the hours and days following the blasts, ordinary Mumbaikars demonstrated remarkable ingenuity and resourcefulness in coping with the tragedy.”

160 testimonies were recorded by Mumbai citizens, collected via direct responses on the website, as well as interviews recorded by the team, which were then transcribed on the website. This collected narrative was summarized to form a chronology of the disaster from first-hand accounts of witnesses, those affected, and emergency response personnel.

The evolving account of how hospitals responded to the disaster was very interesting – most striking to me was that the hospitals had to intuit that there was a disaster as there was no alert from the police or authorities, and then emergency doctors had to quickly create a workable system to cope with injured people, mustering all available personnel including medical students, and in one site, senior professors took over triage at the door in order to sort the flood of incoming patients accurately.

My deepest sympathy goes out to all those in Mumbai, and the friends and families across the world who have been affected by these tragedies.


Written by farzaneh

November 27, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Posted in Global Health

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