Getting battle-ready for COVID-19 emergency: NDRF chief

Romit Bhattacharya Kolkata, Mar 27 (PTI) The NDRF, the specialised force to tackle disasters, is getting battle-ready should its services are required amid rising cases of the deadly COVID 19 that has put the country under an unprecedented lockdown, its Director Geneal S N Pradhan said.

Pradhan said personnel of the National Disaster Response Force are also present in all the COVID-19 state control rooms as part of its preparedness.

We have prepared 84 small core teams per battalion.

The force is trying to cover 600 personnel in each battalion with personal protection equipment (PPE)... we have informed the chief secretaries of all the states that we are on standby mode and can be called in as and when required in terms of the protocol, he told PTI in a telephonic interview.

Our men are deputed in the dedicated control rooms of states so that we are on the same page with the local authority in terms of the information, work and tasking, he added.

NDRF has 12 battalions, each consisting of 1,150 personnel.

Pradhan said Bihar and Tamil Nadu have already sought its help for coronavirus prevention exercise.

On Thursday, the Bihar government had asked for two NDRF teams to be on standby in Patna and Munger for support to the local police and medical staff. Tamil Nadu called us to tend to segregation activities at railway stations, he said.

The force has so far trained nearly 28,000 personnel, including those from the CISF and other forces, and will continue with the routine every day, but in smaller batches to maintain social distancing.

Pradhan said the NDRF has been successful in clearing a lot of apprehension of the staff of other forces about the coronavirus safety precautions.

We have been preparing and training all the outward- facing staff across the landports, airports and seaports for the last one month on how to wear PPEs, especially the gloves and masks and how to handle them, and the basic aspects of social distancing, the NDRF chief said.

Pradhan, who assumed charge in January last year, said personnel of the force are trained for medical first response (MFR) and pre-hospital treatment (PHT), and can function as the facilitating arm of states for the frontline health workers.

We are not in the frontline like doctors or in the secondline like paramedics, but probably feature right after them... NDRF men can be of help at the quarantine centres or in places where there are mass cases, he said.

The Odisha-born IPS officer also said it will have enough personnel to respond to any natural disaster that may arise amid the COVID-19 crisis, notwithstanding the nearly 50 per cent of its strength in all readiness for a possible coronavirus call.

We will work in a collaborative model with the states for example, there will be a local policeman, a local medical professional, then there will be an NDRF personnel so that we can economise the whole exercise and judiciously use our force, Pradhan said. PTI RBT SK SK