Quarantined IAF personnel enhance survival skills, learn rescue ops at Darjeeling’s HMI
The 53 men underwent the training in four batches between July 23 and September 18.Updated: Sep 22, 2020, 22:48 IST
Making the most of the mandatory 14-day quarantine period they have to spend in isolation while moving from one base to another, 53 personnel of the Indian Air Force have undergone training in stress control, survival and high-altitude rescue at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) in Darjeeling.
The 53 men underwent the training in four batches between July 23 and September 18.
An organisation under the Union ministry of defence and with the defence minister as its president, HMI is one of the premier mountaineering institutes in the country.
Group captain Y K Bajaj from Air Force Station Kurseong in Darjeeling district requested HMI to provide quarantine facilities for two weeks to personnel coming from different parts of the country before they could join duty.
Group captain Jai Kishan, the principal HMI, came up with an idea to make the most of the opportunity.
When the nationwide lockdown was announced in March, HMI’s 76 trainees and 50 staff members were stranded at the institute’s base camp at an altitude of 14,600 feet at Chowrikhang in the Himalayas in West Sikkim.
The trainees were brought back to Darjeeling and kept at the institute for more than two months. To keep them occupied and prevent mental fatigue, the institute came up with physical and mental exercises, said Jai Kishan.
Using this experience, Jai Kishan decided to utilize the 14-day quarantine period for the air force personnel. “The training was conducted outside the HMI hostel in Darjeeling,” he told HT on Tuesday.
“The trainees started their day with two hours of physical training which included aerobics, muscle strengthening exercises, yoga, meditation etc. The morning session ended with puja and the national anthem,” said Jai Kishan.
The air force men were taught about various types of hazards, use of safety ropes, equipment, improvisation for survival, building shelters, improvised first-aid procedures and response during emergency.
“It was a judicious utilisation of the quarantine time,” said the HMI principal. There were six instructors, including Jai Kishan.
To maintain social distancing, the hostel rooms, each of which are otherwise meant for eight people, were used by two air force men.
HMI has so far trained 46,000 people and around 1000 of its students have successfully climbed to the top of Mount Everest.