Dial 100 when in need of help is what people in India have been told for years. However, the Ludhiana police are now out to give the lie to this belief.
In a mock drill conducted by the Sahnewal airport authorities on Thursday to check the response time of various emergency services, unanswered calls exposed the chinks in their preparedness.
When the mock drill to report a “hijacking” began at 12:19pm, the first call was made to the police control room (PCR). However, shockingly, the distress call was not answered by anyone. This only leaves one wondering about the fate of frantic calls made by the public.
A call to 100 reaches the police control room (PCR) at Police Lines, where at least 10 cops are available to attend such calls. The information is then forwarded to PCR patrolling teams and the police station concerned. The police claim they receive around 2,000 calls to the PCR on a daily basis.
It was only after the airport authorities used the hotline between the airport and the police that the latter swung into action.
Worse, a call made to the Red Cross blood bank, which is under the command of the deputy commissioner, got the response that they had no driver to take the vehicle to the airport. Hence, they said they could not be of much help.
The authorities then called the fire brigade control room at 101, which, appallingly, also got them no response. When several attempts were made to contact the additional divisional fire officer (ADFO), whose number not many would have, he did not answer his phone. Finally, after losing much time, the closest fire station at Focal Point was contacted.
The only saving grace was the quick response by the equally vital medical services.
Within minutes of contacting the Community Health Centre (CHC), Sahnewal, at 12.19 pm, a 108 Ambulance arrived at the scene. It was followed by the PCR motorcycle staff that took 10 minutes to reach the airport and the fire brigade from Focal Point station, which took 15 minutes.
As information spread in the area, locals started to huddle around the airport but turned back when they found nothing amiss.
Authorities at Sahnewal airport said an anti-hijacking committee headed by the deputy commissioner had been set up earlier to handle such situations and they had taken his permission to conduct the mock drill.
They added they had also contacted the Ludhiana Civil Hospital, SPS Apollo Hospital and CMCH.
VP Jain, senior manager at the airport, said after the recent terrorist attack at Karachi airport, they conducted the mock drill to check preparedness for any untoward situation.