The Indian Air Force (IAF) airlifted several Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) jawans who were critically injured when their bus fell into a gorge in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ramban district on Tuesday.
The incident had occurred on Monday when a civil bus, en route from Badgam to Kanpur, toppled into a valley near Ramban which led to several critical casualties. The Western Air Command of the IAF deployed two Cheetah helicopters from its Udhampur-based unit ‘Hovering Hawks’ to carry out the casevac mission in Chaderkot, Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir at a short notice.
At 1045 hrs, two helicopters and two sets of crews were made to standby for take-off from Udhampur to Chanderkot helipad where the casualties were initially evacuated and stationed. On getting a go-ahead for one helicopter at 1050 hrs, Wng Cdr V Mehta as captain with co-pilot Arunima Vidhate got airborne from Udhampur. Meanwhile, after ascertaining the requirement on the call of Wng Cdr V Mehta, the second helicopter got airborne from Udhampur with Sqn Ldr SK Prasad as captain and Flt Lt Siddhant Yadav as the co-pilot on the pit.
The first helicopter landed at Chanderkot Helipad at 1125 hrs and pulled out 03 critically injured jawans of ITBP who were amongst the 09 other critically injured casualties from the fateful bus. The other helicopter landed at 1225 hrs and picked 02 remaining jawans who were in a critical condition along with a medical attendant. 04 casualties were picked up by the civil helicopter.
“Due to the power station and several microwave towers on the eastern side of the helipad, helicopters had to carry out one-sided approaches and take-offs with thorough traffic coordination with civil helicopters. Additionally, the site had limited manoeuvring space,” said the mission leader and captain of the lead aircraft Wng Cdr Vishal Mehta, IAF.
Both the helicopters flew towards Jammu airport where an ambulance was ready to attend to the casualties. The casualties had suffered serious injuries which included facial/head injuries, fractured leg, and major bruises on arms. Although they had been taken from the accident site to Ramban DH their condition was highly critical and speedy evacuation to a better medical facility was the only lifesaving measure call at that point in time.
The crew of HOVERING HAWKS executed the mission with extreme professionalism keeping up the highest customs of the Indian Air Force.
(The writer is a Delhi-based independent contributor to print and online publications)