It was 1700 hrs, and in the helicopter unit based at Jammu, nicknamed the ‘Condors’, Wing Commander Vishal Jain and Squadron Leader Soumya Das were reviewing the days’ work in the process of ‘packing up’ for the weekend. Little did they know that they would soon have to save some people involved in a gruesome bus accident. 26-year old Ishaq and 25-year old Farooq along with others were travelling in a bus when its driver lost control and the bus fell into a ditch near Budhal about 30 kilometres (km) from Rajouri.
The nearest Air force Station in Jammu was alerted and an immediate sortie for casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) was planned. Wing Commander Vishal during the sortie planning process found that the helipad at Budhal was too small and unfit for the Russian Mi-17 IV helicopters he flies. He suggested that the casualties be brought to Rajouri by road as soon as possible, so that the air evacuation could be effected from Rajouri, which had a bigger and better equipped helipad. The plan was agreed upon and the Wing Commander with his team took off for Rajouri, at around 1740 hrs. With the light fading, time was of utmost importance.
Upon landing at Rajouri at 1845 hrs, the crew had to wait for the casualties to be brought to Rajouri by road. Some casualties unfortunately did not make it beyond the road trip. ‘If I had any slim chance of landing the bird at Budhal, I would have taken it. I would have been able to save a few more people’ rued the Wing Commander. The helicopter, with the casualties and their near and dear ones aboard, took off from Rajouri helipad and landed at Jammu at 2140 hrs.
Professionalism and devotion to duty by the aircrew of the Condors saved lives, especially those of critically injured Ishaq and Farooq, who were shifted to a hospital at Jammu where they are presently receiving medical care.
This short piece was originally featured here, by India’s Ministry of Defence. DDR has edited it lightly to conform to its editorial standards.
Featured Image: Representative photo of an Indian Air force (IAF) Mi-17 involved in operations. Source: IAF
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