A once-in-a-lifetime experience for cops who ran control room

Police personnel during the course of their duty at the control room at the Nedumbassery airport.

Police personnel during the course of their duty at the control room at the Nedumbassery airport.  

The 62-member police team served as the first line of assistance to inbound passengers till the closure of airport on Tuesday midnight

In his short career spanning just six years, M.S. Faizal, Nedumbassery Sub Inspector, was never assigned anything remotely similar to the task he and his colleagues were entrusted with in the last 10 days.

Along with the Health and medical teams, the 62-member police team that manned the special COVID-19 control room at the Cochin international airport soldiered on, serving as the first line of assistance to inbound passengers from across the country and abroad till the airport was completely shut down on Tuesday midnight.

“It was unlike any experience before. We had to deal with passengers from highly infected countries just hoping that a mask, a pair of gloves, and the frequent application of sanitisers will keep us safe. We might have interacted with over 50,000 passengers during that 10-day window considering that on an average 2,000 domestic passengers and 3,000 international passengers passed through the airport a day,” said Mr. Faizal.

The police set up the special control room at the airport on March 14 shortly after the second wave of infection was reported in the State. A pool of 30 personnel were drawn from the Muvattupuzha and Perumbavoor sub-divisions of the rural police, and they were split into two teams of 15 members each to run the control room round the clock. Mr. Faizal and Edathala Sub Inspector Aby George were put in charge of the control room. Reji Abraham, DySP, District Crime Records Bureau, and Madhu Babu, Anti-Narcotics DySP, monitored the functioning of the control room under the guidance of District Police Chief (Ernakulam Rural) K. Karthik.

Besides, 15 members from the Kerala Armed Forces First Battalion under the supervision of Commandant Vaibhav Saxena were roped in for collating data.

“The control room passed on the list of people to be put on home quarantine to the District Police Chiefs concerned who collated it and sent to the local police stations for monitoring compliance with quarantine,” said Mr. Faizal.

Police personnel used to line up along the terminal exits, guiding people on the dos and don’ts on their travel back home and the need for strictly complying with the home quarantine protocol.

“Initially, it was tough convincing people. For instance, some passengers insisted on occupying the front seat alongside the driver despite being advised to sit in the back seat,” recalled Mr. George.

Mr. Faizal said the three days leading up to the ban on international services on March 22 were the most challenging as the flow of passengers had really surged.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 1:50:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/a-once-in-a-lifetime-experience-for-cops-who-ran-control-room/article31167370.ece

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