Thursday, September 22, 2011

Army Aviation & AMC Continue Relief ops In Sikkim

Army's continuing rescue efforts in quake-affected regions of Sikkim has entered the fourth day today. While most daring and gallant acts of rescue by the men in olive greens will in all likelihood go unreported and unheralded, some individual and collective acts that have saved lives are now beginning to emanate from the region. More such reports are expected to follow in the coming days.

In one such incident, toiling well past midnight amidst most adverse conditions in the aftermath of the Sunday night temblor, Lt Col RK Saini, officer commanding a field workshop of the EME battalion in the outer perimeter of Gangtok city, together with his boys, saved the life of a woman who lay crushed in a car when a combination of earth, stone and an uprooted tree came crashing down on their ill-fated car, which was also carrying her husband and brother.

The car was badly crushed and mangled on the left side where the woman passenger was seated, leaving her lower body badly stuck. She was also grievously injured. Miraculously, both male occupants in the car survived and managed to extricate themselves from the car.

The incident happened almost immediately when the earthquake struck, on a road bend nearly 250 meters from the army's field workshop location in Gangtok. An army jawan from the unit, who was an eye witness to the accident, immediately alerted his superiors who meanwhile were all gathered in an open area after the tremors struck.

Forming a small team, Col Saini and his team rushed to the site with whatever handy equipments that they could lay their hands on that included torches and cutters. Meanwhile, Col P Kapoor, Commanding Officer of the EME battalion managed to get in touch with the GREF (General Reserve Engineer Force), requisitioned additional JCB, bulldozers to the site. He further reinforced fork-lifters and pillar lights to facilitate rescue operations by night.

An army medical officer at the site rendered medical aid to the woman, who was under severe trauma and experiencing excruciating pain. The presence of the onlookers was only making the rescue act tougher by the minute. With possibility of extricating her normally ruled out, a bold decision had to be taken towards saving the life of the victim.

Showing exemplary courage and presence of mind to arrive at a quick decision, a hallmark of any professional soldier, Col Saini decided to cut open the vehicle into several parts. Meanwhile a giant crater was dug on one side of the car to offset any possibility of the vehicle tipping over. By 1.30 am, the team that worked relentlessly all night long had managed to safely bring out the passenger alive. The victim was promptly taken to the hospital for professional Medicare.

Of the nearly 5,500 army men engaged in the rescue and relief operations in Sikkim since Sunday night, at the forefront of the casualty evacuation are 18 army aviators led by Colonel Sanjay Vadhera and his pilots flying four ALH (Advanced Light Helicopters), and Colonel Saleem Shaikh with his pilots operating five Cheetah helicopters.

The gritty aviators have rescued 83 tourists and evacuated 36 casualties so far, and the count is only expected to go more in the coming days. In addition, the pilots have flown 83 members of various composite teams into inaccessible areas in north Sikkim. Two generators have also been inducted under-slung, considered one of the most critical operations by helicopters, and compounded further by the criticality of operations in high altitudes.

"We are ferrying up radio equipments and have airlifted nearly 7,600 kgs of medical supplies so far," says Col Vadhera, who flew in to the disaster area all the way from Misamari, near Tezpur in Assam, the very next morning after the earthquake. "Undaunted, my pilots are all eager to save more lives," adds Col Shaikh, whose helicopters are otherwise operational from Sevoke Road, near Siliguri, routinely.

Meanwhile, the army's medical corps that has deployed 34 medical detachments and relief camps in various places in Sikkim has so far treated nearly 250 out-patients. A concerted effort to treat more casualties if need be, is being augmented and complemented by the medical supplies that the army helicopters are bringing in every possible sorties.

It may be mentioned that 26 civilians and 22 armed forces personnel are also being treated at the four regular military hospitals at Binaguri, Bengdubi and two Field Hospitals at Gangtok and 17 miles out of the state capital.



Anonymous said...

You can always count on the olive green.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this article.
Bravehearts of the Indian defence forces - we have been and will continue to remain indebted to you. Jai Jawan!!

Anonymous said...

I have read about Indian armed forces personnel not looking fit,ie. with bellies sticking out. The helicopter pilot in picture 7 looks well fed. This does not project Indian armed forces in a good light. They should be fit and well proportioned - not have their bellies sticking out!

Anonymous said...

you bloody anonymous dtd 23 sep 2011 12:40 pm, ur an *****le ,u cudnt see what help & heroism they are doing, u cud only see bell. such are the people of india, did u ask pilots age? may be he is in 40s, before posting comments see for urself hw capable are u

Anonymous said...

but they will forget army after the event is over! baboo(n)s will take over now