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50% of NDRF personnel to be Covid-19 warriors

NDRF first flagged the threat from the virus, which originated in Wuhan (China), in February and has since then been training personnel at land, seaports and airports to handle inbound passengers and create awareness.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2020, 07.29 AM IST
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Training personnel in every battalion for the work: DG Pradhan
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NEW DELHI: The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) will equip 600 of its personnel in every battalion to help health workers contain the Covid-19 virus outbreak, said SN Pradhan, its director general.

NDRF first flagged the threat from the virus, which originated in Wuhan (China), in February and has since then been training personnel at land, seaports and airports to handle inbound passengers and create awareness.

Each NDRF battalion consists of 1,150 personnel. There are 12 NDRF battalions spread across India.

“We are now aiming to equip half the battalion with personal protective equipment (PPE). They will be in ready-to-go mode...and be deployed wherever states want them,” Pradhan told ET.

“We have also coordinated with the state control rooms… Our commandants are in touch with the state government officials,” Pradhan said, adding the trained professional force is on standby mode to handle biological/medical emergencies, but the frontline is health and medical professionals who deal directly with infected cases.

During a medical emergency, the NDRF is third in line after doctors, paramedics/health workers.

“The stage so far has not come where medical staff needs support,” Pradhan said.

In the meantime, the force is assisting states in creating awareness and is part of the response mechanism to the disaster, he added.

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On being asked about a delay in responding to the threat, he said, “In February, when there was not even one case in India, we had alerted about the virus coming from China.”

“In fact, on the very first day when first flight from Wuhan landed at Delhi, NDRF was present at the airport. Many are not aware that the first batch of immigration officials were trained by us, following which they checked on Wuhan passengers,” he said.

Elaborating further, Pradhan said, “Subsequently, seaports, land ports and Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) were added where we facilitated training.”

Together with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), NDRF has trained as many as 25,700 personnel across India at various ports, he added.
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