Bhutan Red Cross Society (BRCS) again catered different services to 1,557 people since the first day of blackout, from 16 January 2022 till date across the country.
With the blessings from Their Majesties The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, The President of BRCS, the BRCS had initiated its National Response Operation (NRO) across the nation since the declaration of the Blackout period.
More than 100 specialized volunteers comprising of civil servants, farmers, youths, business people, monks and mostly the Red Cross Taxi Volunteers for the Red Cross Ride for Health (RCRH) service in nine dzongkhags are engaged in the National Response Operation.
Services provided during lockdown and blackout period by the BRCS/NRO to the people are dead body management and transportation, cremation ground services, essential delivery services, RCRH beyond district and Red Cross Meals.
Operation Director of the NRO who is also the Secretary General of BRCS Dragyel Tenzin Dorji said that BRCS has been assigned the lead role in the Dead Body Management and cremation related activities during the Lockdowns by the National Covid-19 Task Force.
“The BRCS volunteer assists in transporting the dead body and facilitate the funeral process. We have managed 42 dead bodies including five infants in nine Dzongkhags, Thimphu, Sarpang, Samtse, Samdrup Jongkhar, Zhemgang, South Chukha, North Chukha, Wangdue and Haa,” he added.
From the nine Dzongkhags, the highest number of dead bodies managed so far is in Thimphu with 28 dead bodies including cremation of 5 infants.
He said that BRCS have a specialized volunteer’s team trained in Dead Body Management and Transportation (DBMT), a special service to manage dead bodies arriving in the country by air or road irrespective of cases (COVID_19 cases or non COVID_19 cases).
The volunteers while taking up their task, they make sure that the health protocol is strictly followed both during the lockdown period and non-lockdown period.
“BRCS has deployed volunteers to provide cremation ground service both during lockdown periods and normal times to ensure support and to assist the public to ensure people follow the health safety protocols and also support the family members acquiring movement permits,” he added.
Apart from those two services, the BRCS has initiated an operation for the delivery of essential items since the first lockdown, he said, and in the ongoing lockdown, the volunteers were deployed in Thimphu to deliver essential medicines.
In other branches, the volunteers deliver essential food items, LPG cylinders and other essential items within the dzongkhag.
He further said, “Through the Red Cross EDS, more than 323 sick, elderly and people from all walks of life are benefited. In Thimphu alone, volunteers have reached out to 191 individuals. The Red Cross Ride for Health within the district has facilitated the transportation of patients discharged from hospital and in 11 days, about 421 patients have availed the service.”
For the wellbeing of the patients and attendants travelling outside Thimphu which is a concern from Her Majesty, Red Cross Meal services are provided whereby a decent lunch is being sent out.
Meanwhile, he said, “It has been a tough bargain and has been challenging to receive PPEs from the districts authorities while carrying out Dead Body Management and Cremation Ground Services as we were told that they are also running out of PPEs.”
As a field responder and during emergencies, one of the challenges still seems to be the multi-stakeholder coordination without one centralized and coordination information center, he added.
While the other challenge he has shared is that the decision-makers in the NC19TF do not take the basis of the daily situation field reports while taking decisions.