NEW DELHI: The government's disaster relief force is set to tackle an emergency faster than ever before, taking three times less time to respond to a phone call than it did earlier.
The response time taken by the control room of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for answering a call for help has been brought down to 5-6 seconds from the earlier 15-20 seconds, a new blueprint for the force states.
The document, accessed by PTI, seeks to enable a team to reach a spot or deploy equipment during a calamity or other emergencies within the "golden hour" -- the one-hour crucial period when relief is considered most effective.
Keeping in view the importance of a quick response in the event of an earthquake, landslide or other such disasters, the central force recently re-worked its old operational blueprint and set new timelines for different tasks, training its rescuers accordingly.
The new blueprint, which has been put into effect, states that the first rescue team will board a four-wheeler within 15-20 minutes after being intimated, as against the earlier 30-40 minutes.
"There is a special vigilance team that is mandated to check if the new timelines are being followed and achieved.
The NDRF response begins with the first call to the control room. All activities with their accurate time taken are logged into a check book," a senior official said.
The time taken for a few other operational procedures has also been minimised, the official said.
A boat in a marooned area should now be inflated in 60 seconds as compared to 5-6 minutes earlier. A tower light is to be erected in 45 seconds as compared to the earlier two minutes and a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) suit has to be donned by every person trained for this special combat task in 2:40 minutes as compared to eight minutes earlier.
"These new timelines have been prepared and implemented keeping in mind the best practices in the disaster response domain, the world over. The sanctity of the golden hour, the first hour during an emergency, not only holds good for medical situations but also for a disaster response," the official said.
NDRF responders are being trained to meet these "tough but doable time parameters" every day, the official said.
Other operational procedures that have been accelerated include assembling and operating a chainsaw in one minute as compared to 2:30 minutes, assembling quick deployable antennae in one minute as compared to three minutes in the past, assembling an air lifting bag in 60 seconds as against three minutes and making a chipping hammer operational in a minute as compared to three minutes earlier.
"The aim to reduce the overall response time of the force is to bring in promptness and quick reactions so that more lives are saved and the impact of the disaster is minimised," the official said.
The government recently enhanced the deputation tenure for personnel joining the elite force to nine years from the present five.
The force, which has more than 14,000 personnel, comprises 12 battalions deployed for disaster response in various parts of the country. It was raised in 2006 with men and women from paramilitary forces such as the CRPF, BSF, ITBP, CISF and SSB.
Each NDRF battalion has a strength of 1,149 personnel.
Each of its battalions has domain experts and teams of engineers, paramedics, technicians, electricians and canine handlers along with trained rescuers.
The force is mandated to undertake special disaster operations and combat roles independently and also assist local authorities in launching a quick rescue and response operation to save life and property.