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Southern States - Karnataka

Fire Force to impart training to policemen

By B.S. Ramesh

BANGALORE May 12. The Department of Fire Force has proposed to train policemen in basic relief and rescue operations during accidents and disasters. This has been done in the light of the observation that lives can be saved and damage to property minimised if rescue efforts commence without delay.

Sources in the Department of Fire Force told The Hindu that a proposal to train at least 100 policemen initially had been sent to the Police Department.

They cited the recent incident at the construction site of the Vidhana Soudha annexe where earth caved in, and the bus tragedy in Mandya District. In both the incidents, lives were lost, and rescue operations began only after the Fire Force personnel arrived at the spot.

On the incident at the construction site of the Vidhana Soudha annexe, sources said earth-moving equipment in the area could have been used in rescue operations. However, the excavators could not remove mud as iron rods had slipped into it.

The Fire Force personnel commenced rescue operations only after the rods were cut and removed. In the Mandya bus mishap, all that the police could do was wait and watch. If the policemen had been trained in basic first-aid and rescue operations, it could have made a difference, sources said.

A rescue van was rushed all the way from Bangalore to the site of the accident in Mandya. By the time the van reached the spot it was late, and many lives had already been lost.

In both the incidents, police were at the scene almost immediately after they occurred. In almost all cases, police are the first to reach the site. Apart from keeping crowds of curious onlookers and relatives of victims at bay, they can do little till Fire Force personnel arrive.

As most policemen are not trained in rescue operation, the Department of Fire Force wants to train at least 100 policemen initially. Sources said that a 15-day programme could be started at the Mundkur College or at any venue suggested by the Police Department. At the same time, they agreed that the Police Department might find it difficult to spare 100 men.

Such an exercise would not only involve expenditure but also add to the shortage of police personnel. Moreover, the trained personnel would have to undergo refresher courses and re-training regularly. Besides, it would make little sense to keep such men in reserve for long periods without assigning any specific work to them.

The Fire Force personnel point out that policemen would only act as an initial rescue force, and that the more complex rescue and relief operations would have to be taken up by the Fire Force Department.

The objective of proposing training to policemen was only to aid the efforts of the Fire Force personnel and not to take over their duties.

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