Kolkata Police moves to increase strength of its Disaster Management Group

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Kolkata, Apr.29 (ANI): In view of the increased terror threats and major fire accidents, Kolkata Police has decided to increase the strength of its Disaster Management Group (DMG) to 120 personnel to rescue terror hostages and fire victims trapped in high rise buildings.

At present a 85-member squad, comprising youths from Armed Police, Rapid Action Force and Special Action Force of the Kolkata Police, along with a support staff of the green police and home guards, is being trained in high rise climbing, rappelling, rescue, first aid, tree cutting etc to handle any exigencies.

This gains significance in view of the alert in the city since Wednesday (April 28) against a possible Indian Mujahideen terror strike on sensitive installations or landmark buildings, serial blasts across the city or taking prominent industrialists hostage.

According to Ranjit Pachnanda, Special Commissioner of Police (I), Kolkata Police, the Disaster Management Group already had tree-cutting squads and divers. But after the Stephen Court fire incident in which 43 persons were killed and during which, DMG personnel carried out rescue operations with great success despite all odds, the West Bengal government decided to augment DMG's strength and add rescue from high rise buildings in case of fire or other incidents to its specialization.

DMG personnel are now being trained to rescue people trapped in fires or evacuating hostages during terror attacks on buildings. They already have training in diving and water rescue operations during boat capsize or drowning accidents and clearing fallen trees off roads in case of storms, squalls or cyclones to prevent traffic disruptions.

Pachnanda said initial training was give at the National Industrial Security Academy (NISA), run by CISF in Hyderabad, in collapsible structure search and rescue and medical first responders. Currently, the DMG is being trained in climbing by Himalayan Mountaineering Federation in Kolkata where they are practicing climbing and rescue of victims up and down buildings up to 15 floors. The DMG is being kept in peak condition with several short term refresher courses on a regular basis with the BSF and the CISF as well as Mountaineering organizations, he added.

Rojar Fippen, a DMG member, said the additional training in climbing and rescue had now given the personnel confidence to climb high rises, jump off from top floors and efficiently rescue trapped persons.

Another DMG RAF member Mintu Pal said the training included climbing without ropes, preparing rappelling set ups for team members, rappelling down the buildings with conscious or unconscious victims and basic first aid.

It may be hoped that major fires or terror strikes would be prevented through effective disaster risk reduction techniques or alert intelligence and action, however, in case of any untoward incidents, the city police now has access to a highly trained and specialized force for Disaster Management and Crisis Control. By Ajitha Menon (ANI)

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