When calamities strike and the survivors are left looking for a saviour, the personnel from National Disaster Response Force come to the rescue. Whether it’s a flood or a crash- they are the first responders to help the citizens come out of whatever disaster they might be trapped in.
Formed under the Disaster Management Act of 2005, their existence is defined as “for the purpose of special response to a threatening disaster situation or disaster.” It is a 12-Battallion strong, para-military organisation dedicated toward saving the lives of citizens in any condition which might be covered as a ‘disaster.’
Their existence came to be due to two major disasters that shook the nation to its core. First was the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat and second was the tsunami in 2004 that hit the entire southern coast. During these times, the leaders recognised an urgent need for specialised forces who are trained in the skills of rescue and relief operations.
Internationals talks cemented the idea for the need for such a task force. Then laws were formed to organise disaster response at the national, state and district level. The NDRF comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs but is chaired by the Prime Minister of India.
The agency recruits from Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and the personnel go through some very specialised training for their job.
Across the 12 battalions of the force, 1,150 rescuers are recruited. Each battalion has 18 self-contained specialist search and rescue teams of 45 personnel each including engineers. The specialist groups are trained for every possible hurdle that might come their way. They even have highly trained dogs in their troops to help with their missions along with paramedics, electricians, technicians and so on.
They are responsible for rescuing lives during drowning cases, building collapses, landslides, devastating floods and cyclones. Apart from that, any calamity resulting from human activity, boat accident, large scale road accident, everything comes under the purview of NDRF. They are trained to locate any survivors and get them back to safety. Otherwise, keep them safe as long as possible till any further measure can be taken.
Apart from helping out after a disaster has already occurred, the NDRF also believes in preparedness and mitigation. One of the features of the force is to have the battalions distributed across the country so that any operation can be activated as soon as possible. For better preparedness, the teams often go through re-training exercises even after their original training has been fulfilled. This ensures they are always ready with the latest information.
However, the NDRF says they need more teams for a better distribution across the country. Additionally, women troops have not been added to the teams yet which shall be done soon.
The NDRF was praised globally for aiding Japan in 2011, when it was struck by an earthquake, tsunami and a nuclear emergency. Later, the world applauded them for their rescue operations in the 2015 Nepal earthquake.