Floating base for quick rescue

Guwahati, Oct 19 : The National Disaster Response Force has set up its first “floating response base” in the country here to rescue and resuscitate accident victims. The move comes in the wake of increasing incidents of drowning in the Brahmaputra.

The base, which was set up on a vessel provided by the state inland water transport department, will immediately respond to accidents such as boat capsize and drownings.

Altogether 45 trained divers of the Guwahati-based 1st battalion of the force will be stationed at the base and serve as lifeguards.

The move is expected to go a long way in saving lives as 34 people drowned in the Brahmaputra in and around the city in the last two years.

The base was inaugurated by NDRF director-general Rajeev at Fancy Bazar riverfront this evening.

“Every year, several drownings take place. It was a long-felt need to establish a base of operation here so that casualties could be minimised,” he said.

Rajeev said the response base would be equipped with state-of-the-art search and rescue equipment, including 12 fibre reinforced plastic boats, four rubberboats, deep diving equipment, floating aids, victim locating cameras, load-lifting tools (used to rescue victims trapped under debris) and first-aid kits.

The NDRF, which was raised by the Centre in 2005 to handle all types of disasters, is a multi-disciplinary, multi-skilled and high-tech force capable of effectively responding to all types of disasters.

The base will be on standby round-the-clock to handle any emergency situation. It is a first-of-its-kind initiative by the force.

Commandant of the force’s 1st battalion C.P. Saxena said setting up base would reduce the response time.

“Earlier, it took more than an hour for our rescue teams to reach the accident spots from our base located near the airport,” he said.

“We are also chalking out a coordination plan with all the stakeholders like inland water transport department, river police, Mritunjoy 108 ambulance service and the district administration, among others, so that the rescued victims can be immediately transported to hospitals,” Saxena added.

The director-general told reporters that it had been agreed in principle to equip the Guwahati-based 1st battalion to combat nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) disasters.

“Out of eight battalions of the NDRF, four have already been equipped to effectively handle NBC disasters and the remaining battalions, including the first one, will be equipped in a phased manner, possibly within the next couple of years,” he said.