‘To save life and beyond’! The selfless service of the unsung heroes

Many people ask,

“many states are hit by floods, destroying everything. Where is your god?”

I say,

“He was in the uniform rescuing people”.

Since yesterday, this video of a young lady touching feet of NDRF team which rescued her is going viral.

In case of any natural disasters we have seen these men readily helping out rescue operations. Let us know about NDRF and it’d function, what NDRF comprises of,

In 2005,

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), a specialised force was constituted

“for the purpose of specialist response to a threatening disaster situation or disaster” under the Disaster Management Act, section 4445

The “Apex Body for Disaster Management” in India is the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). The Chairman of the NDMA is the Prime Minister.

When ‘calamities of severe nature’ occur, the Central Government is responsible for providing aid and assistance to the affected state, including deploying (at the State’s request) of Armed Forces, Central Paramilitary Forces, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and such communication, air and other assets, as are available and needed.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is under the National Disaster Management Authority.(NDMA).

The head of the NDRF is designated as Director General. The Director Generals of NDRF are IPS officers on deputation from Indian police organisations. Director General wears the uniform and badges of rank of an army threestar general.The NDRF is a top-heavy organisation which in addition to the Director General has several Inspector Generals (IG) and Deputy IGs, who fly flags and wear army-style badges of rank.


National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is a force of 12 battalions, manned by persons on deputation from the para-military forces of India:

  • three Border Security Force,
  • three Central Reserve Police Force,
  • two Central Industrial Security Force,
  • two Indo-Tibetan Border Police and
  • two Sashastra Seema Bal.

The total strength of each battalion is approximately 1149.

Each battalion is capable of providing 18 self-contained specialist search and rescue teams of 45 personnel each including engineers, technicians, electricians, dog squads and medical/paramedics.

NDRF in addition to being able to respond to natural disasters has four battalions capable of responding to radiological, nuclear, biological and chemical disasters.

The aim of the National Disaster Management Authority is –

“to build a safer and disaster resilent India by developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster and technology driven strategy for disaster management”.

This has to be achieved through a culture of prevention, mitigation and preparedness to generate a prompt and efficient response at the time of disasters.

NDRF has proved its importance in achieving this vision by highly skilled rescue and relief operations, regular and intensive training and re-training, familiarisation exercises within the area of responsibility of respective NDRF Bns, carrying out mock drills and joint exercises with the various stakeholders.

NDRF has saved 1,33,192 human lives and retrieved 2760 dead bodies of disaster victims in 73 response operations in the country.

During the Kosi River breach in Bihar in August 2008, which was declared a national calamity by Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh, NDRF personnel actively engaged themselves in rescue operations and relief duties in districts Supaul, Madhepura, Araria and Purnia.

About 780 NDRF personnel trained in flood rescue operations along with 153 high capacity inflatable boats and other rescue equipment were deployed in the flood affected areas.

The swift and highly skilled operations of NDRF saved more than 100,000 people trapped in swirling waters of river Kosi. NDRF personnel distributed relief supplies including drinking water to the stranded flood victims. Medical camps were also established to provide medical care to the flood affected people. Impressed with prompt and efficient response of NDRF, Chief Minister of Bihar Shri Nitish Kumar approached Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh for a NDRF Bn to be stationed in Bihar,and offered 65 acres of land at Bihta near Patna.

On 26 January 2010 a five-storied under-construction residential building collapsed at Bellary, Karnataka with about 50 people trapped under the huge debris.3 rescue teams (102 personnel) of NDRF Bn Pune promptly airlifted to Bellary and NDRF personnel carried out round the clock operation with the help of search & rescue equipments and dogs for 09 days.In the meticulously carried out operation under huge debris the NDRF managed to rescue 20 live persons. The last person was rescued on the 9th day. NDRF also retrieved 27 dead bodies trapped under debris

After its constitution in 2005, NDRF with its swift and highly skilled rescue operations has emerged as most visible and vibrant force of the NDMA.

NDRF personnel are invariably trained in courses like

  • Flood Rescue,
  • Collapsed Structure Search and Rescue,
  • Medical First Responders,
  • Rope Rescue,
  • Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Emergencies;
  • Dignified Disposal of Dead Bodies etc.

NDRF personnel are trained in prestigious institutes like NISA, DRDO, BARC, CME, Army, Navy and Air Force as well in foreign countries like US, Singapore, China, Finland, Korea, Switzerland etc.

Today, when states of western part of India are badly hit by floods. These teams are trying their best to help people. We may have lot of complaints about rescue and relief but let’s keep that all aside and help the people affected by flood,and people trying to rescue them.

Let us have them in our prayer.

Dr Sindhu Prashanth