The Indian Railways Institute of Disaster Management (IRIDM) in collaboration with the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Rescue Fund (SDRF) is conducting a five-day workshop from April 10 to 14 on specialised training for underwater rescue and retrieval from railways coaches.
The workshop aims to provide practical training to rescue personnel on how to undertake complex underwater rescue operations in case of emergencies such as floods, train derailments, or accidents involving submerged coaches. The training will focus on equipping rescue personnel with the necessary skills and equipment to carry out rescues safely and efficiently.
V.V.S. Sreenivas, the director of IRIDM said, “The idea of this course was a recommendation by the higher authorities and ₹7 Crore were allocated for the same. But we could not make much progress for a long time.” The IRIDM Bengaluru campus was commissioned in 2018 and the Zonal Railways procured Ultra Thermic Cutting equipment for cutting metal bodies underwater.
“Our target (during the training) was to rescue 100 bodies in three hours but we have done it in under two hours. This is an encouragement for us to move forward,” he said. He further added that the South Western Railways have the equipment required for rescue operations but lack the confidence and the expertise required to carry out these operations underwater. He said that the hydraulic devices that the South Western Railways had are not certified for underwater use and they have requested other departments to send the equipment for the training. “That is why we have consulted with NDRF and SDRF,” he said.
Jayanat Ramachandran, a professor at IRIDM said, “Underwater rescue is a challenge. Though the railways have the equipment for cutting, they do not have the facilities for diving. Whereas the NDRF has divers but no expertise in cutting railways coaches. This is a synergic effort between the Railways and the agencies.”
There are about 87 people from different agencies like NDRF, SDRF, Life Saving Society (Kolkata) and Special Rescue Training Academy (Goa) participating in this workshop.
Mr. Sreenivas said, “We have about 27,500 staff and 15,000 officers. This is a huge number compared to any training institute.” Through partnerships with NDRF and other agencies, the Railways want to decentralise this course and conduct more certification courses, he said.
They conducted various demonstrations in an artificial lake constructed on the IRIDM premises. The demonstrations included how to retrieve a body through doors, windows and other openings created with the help of cutting equipment by divers, underwater cutting of coach with different equipment and coordination with ground staff, rescuing a body when the doors and windows are locked and half-submerged.
Mr. Sreenivas also mentioned that the next project that the IRIDM would like to undertake is how to carry out rescue operations when there are fire accidents.