They lack expertise in rescuing people from borewells, though they operate sophisticated equipment

A contingent of 12 personnel from the National Disaster Response Force landed at the remote Pallagacheri hamlet in the Thiagadurgam block on Saturday to witness the operation launched by the police and the Fire and Rescue Service to pull out a three-year-old girl from a borewell.

However, the personnel, led by Inspector Ajayakumar, remained mere spectators. The NDRF is known for its daring rescue operations at the time of natural calamities and man-made disasters.

The NDRF detachment, stationed at Arakkonam, is charged with handling disasters in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the Union Territory of Puducherry, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and the Lakshadweep.

It is reliably learnt that the personnel lack expertise in rescuing people from borewells, though they are equipped with thermal image camera, victim location camera and innumerable cutting apparatus.

Rescuing a person from a borewell is tricky as the operation involves a careful study of the depth where he has fallen and the angle in which he is lying, and whether he is covered with mud or soil and whether he is breathing so that oxygen can be pumped in.

Asked why the personnel from such an elite force were not utilised, Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Villupuram Range) S. Murugan told The Hindu: “They lack expertise in rescuing people from borewells. Of course, such incidents are rare. But I deem it fit for NDRF personnel to acquire necessary skills in this area, too. Therefore, I ask them to come and watch the rescue operation so that they can get first-hand information.”

District Revenue Officer R. Brindadevi said the NDRF personnel themselves admitted that they did not have the expertise. Yet, they wanted to study the operation, and the problems and complications involved in it.

Besides training in such skills, the DIG said, NDRF personnel should be given equipment needed to rescue persons from borewells. “As the NDRF has the means and manpower to move to any part of the country at a short notice, it will be an ideal force to deal with such a crisis as witnessed at Pallagacheri, if its personnel are trained.”

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