Islandwide emergency response system the need of the hour | Sunday Observer

Islandwide emergency response system the need of the hour

“I am what they call in Sri Lanka a real achcharu, or pickle, made up of many different ingredients and spices. I am connected to many cultures. I am stronger because I belong to them all. But, right now in Colombo, I am #sosrilankan,” Keiran wrote in his entry for the Royal Commonwealth Society Essay Competition.

Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa was a bright-eyed compassionate boy who grew up in the United States before moving to Sri Lanka for a short while with his grandmother and mother who have roots in the country.

The 11-year-old was aspiring to get a PhD in neuroscience, and wanted to get a black belt in karate and study Sinhala and Chinese while in Colombo. Keiran even maintained two little yellow-paged vocabularies, which he named Sinhala Vocab #1 and Sinhala Vocab #2, with words he picked up or was taught in school.

But everything changed when Keiran and his mother joined their grandmother for breakfast at Cinnamon Grand on April 21.

He was among those who lost their lives during the premeditated Easter Sunday terrorists attacks that shook the world that day. The country calls it the worst terrorist bombings that hit it and its people.

The bomb that went off at Cinnamon Grand was the sixth of a series of bombings. The first was in St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, at 8.45am, and at Cinnamon Grand the explosion was timed at 9.12am.

Keiran’s mother Dhulsini de Zoysa is calling for an emergency response alarm notificationSystem- a project, which she says, would have saved her boy’s life.

“No one has called for an emergency messaging system in the six months following the deadly, multifocal, Easter Sunday terrorist attacks that killed 277 people., including my 11 year old son — my only child — Kieran,” she told the Sunday Observer. The October 23 released report of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC)highlights grave negligence on the part of those entrusted with ensuring national security. Dhulsini says these failures are violations of the public trust that engender cynicism and apathy, a sense that the political class is not concerned with the safety and security of the common man.

“We cannot save the nearly 270 innocent people lost on Easter Sunday. But there is something we can do to mitigate the impact of future attacks, however,” she adds.

She urged authorities concerned to introduce an island wide, emergency response alarm notification system which would succeed in saving lives, where officials entrusted with national security failed’.

An alarm, issued after the first wave of bombings at 8:45 a.m. on Easter Sunday could have saved many lives.

And the technology for this exists in Sri Lanka. “Just one week prior to the Easter Sunday attack, the office of the President issued well wishes, commemorating the Sinhala/ and Tamil New Year, to all mobile phone users in Sri Lanka. Imagine if we could harness this existing technology for something more useful than hollow wishes,” Dulsini pointed out.


An SMS message, issued by the Defence Ministry or another authorised government office, could reach all Sri Lankans. At the first sign of terrorist activity, the Defence Ministry could warn mobile phone users to stay in secure locations until security forces contain the threat. She further said that what appears to be lacking is the political will to implement such a system.