Round-the-clock efforts prove crucial in rescuing workers trapped on the BUILDING COLLAPSE site in Moulivakkam

The rainy Saturday last week unfolded the biggest construction tragedy in the city, with an 11-storey building that was under construction on Kundrathur Main Road in Moulivakkam crumbling down like a pack of cards.

The first rescuers on the scene were over a dozen firemen from the Poonamallee unit of the Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services (TNFRS). Subsequent respondents from the Guindy, Ambattur and Saidapet stations stormed in with fire tenders.

The Guindy team proved saviours with their emergency rescue tenders (ERT) geared with hydraulic cutters and spreaders. Despite the lashing rains, the firemen’s efforts created lifesaving routes in the debris for many trapped workers.

With the local police personnel swiftly cordoning off the area and some also joining the firefighters, rescue efforts got off to a flying start. Within the first few hours, at least a dozen persons were pulled out of the debris. Most of them, as soon as they were rescued, fled the spot.

In subsequent days, TNFRS men, along with their counterparts in the National Disaster Response Force, carried out round-the-clock rescue operation which proved crucial in rescuing trapped workers. A seven-member-strong canine unit of TNFRS, stationed in Tambaram, was also pressed into service.

TNFRS has remained an integral part of the rescue operations with close to 250 firemen working on site during the day, and over 130 in the night.

‘You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you.’ Many of us would have heard policemen say this line in Hollywood movies.

If you were a policeman, wouldn’t you wish to say these lines when you nab someone? Sadly, in ‘Namma Chennai’, most police constables are not well versed in English. Many constables have now begun to realise their language handicap, especially when they co-ordinate with other States and countries for solving cases.

“We get all types of training, except spoken and written English courses. Those in the lower ranks feel embarrassed when handling cyber crime cases as the complainant or accused may not know Tamil and we have to struggle to understand what they say,” says a police constable.

Besides, during calamities such as the recent building collapse or any other accident involving non-Tamilians, they feel English knowledge would be helpful. But most police personnel are from the villages and have not really got the chance to learn any language, apart from Tamil.

“Many times, mistakes are made while writing reports. The government should provide us some training in English. This will make us stand apart from our counterparts in other States,” said a constable.

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