COVID: NDRF to provide PPE kits, HCQ, immunity-booster to personnel during disaster rescue ops
New Delhi, June 09: The National Disaster Response Force has decided to provide a set of five PPEs to each of its personnel involved in any rescue operation during the time of COVID-19, officials said Tuesday, a day after 51 jawans on cyclone 'Amphan' duty tested positive for the virus.
NDRF Director General (DG) S N Pradhan said the force has got stocks of regular and 'modified' personal protective equipment gear to protect its rescuers from coronavirus and natural vagaries during floods and other disaster scenarios. A total of 51 NDRF personnel who worked during the recent cyclone 'Amphan' in West Bengal have tested positive till now, officials said.
They were tested in Cuttack after they came back to their 3rd battalion base in Mundali sometime back. Almost all the personnel who have been found infected are asymptomatic. More tests are being done, officials added. The NDRF had deployed 19 teams, with about 45 personnel each, in West Bengal in response to the cyclone Amphan that made landfall on May 20. The federal contingency force has a total of 74 active COVID-19 cases, as per the latest data.
The force has now formulated new standard operating procedures for disaster rescue and relief operations that include use of various types of PPEs, administration of prophylactic medicines and preparations as recommended by the AYUSH ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research and case-specific usage of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets. "Every personnel will have five PPEs with them for use during operations," DG Pradhan told PTI.
"While two of these body gear will be regular ones for operating in the COVID-19 environment, three will be modified or raincoat-like PPEs that will give protection to them from rains and against surfaces that could be contaminated with coronavirus," he said. The NDRF chief said immunity-boosting medicines and homeopathy preparations as mandated by the AYUSH ministry are being given to the personnel of the force.
"In certain cases, as per medical advice, the troops may be given HCQ tablets too." "We are ready for the battle even as the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing and with these measures in place we have ticked all our boxes," Pradhan said. He added that every battalion camp will have quarantine and isolation centres so that troops who return from operations are kept at safe distance from those already present on the campus.
The force has also tied up with all states for COVID-19 testing of its personnel on task, in their respective jurisdictions. In an another incident, two NDRF personnel deployed for the recent cyclone 'Nisarga' in Maharashtra have been injured and are recovering. While one cut his toe when he was working on an electric saw, the other suffered a mild fracture.
"The doctors have done a great job and stitched the toe of our jawan. He is doing well." "I am thankful to the Maharashtra government and the state police for creating a 'green corridor' to quickly transport this injured jawan to the hospital for treatment," Pradhan said. He added the other personnel who suffered a limb fracture is stable now. The 2006 raised force has 12 battalions spread across the country for quick response.