Thursday, July 24, 2014

Search & Rescue Ops By IAF's Siachen Pioneers In J&K

On 11 Jul 14, a motorcade of 10 motorcycles enroute Kargil to Padum turned into a nightmare when the last biker of the motorcade Mr Jonathan Durham, a British national, met with a serious accident. After crossing a place called Ringdom, while riding on an unpaved road full of slush and water, Mr Jonathan Durham’s motorcycle had an accident and he severely fractured his Tibiafibula and had severe internal bleeding. This caused the tour to be stranded at that lonely place. Since the only mode of rescue in this treacherous terrain is by airlift, on 17 Jul 14, an IAF helicopter Unit of the Indian Air Force was tasked to undertake the rescue.

On receiving the distress call, pilots promptly gathered relevant information and planned the mission. Two helicopters flown by four pilots of the Unit were launched, the marginal weather conditions made this task even more difficult. Inspite of these odds, the skillful and determined pilots were able to reach the destination of Padum, located in the Zanskar valley, West of Leh and air evacuate him back to Leh. The casualty was received by Air Officer Commanding   Air Force Station Leh, Air Commodore B Manikantan and Commanding Officer,  Wing Commander BS Sehrawat. Mr Jonathan Durham was then shifted to SNM Hospital Leh, where medical assistance was provided. This timely air- evacuation by Siachen Pioneers prevented Mr Durham’s leg from amputation.

The formation leader Wing Commander Huvey Upadhyaya along with other pilots of the formation, Squadron Leader Selva Kumar, Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Pandey and Flying Officer Ashish Hungund, felt extremely proud to have saved the stranded biker. It is worthwhile to mention that Siachen Pioneers have saved more than 6000 lives till date and is the sentinel of humanitarian operations in the entire Ladakh region.


A mountaineering expedition to Mt Stok Kangri turned into a disaster when an individual from the mountaineering group had a severe fall during the climb.  The list 19 year old Delhite became incapacitated due to injuries to his spine and pelvis fractured ribs and dislocated shoulder during the fall.

The Indian Air Force helicopter Unit at Leh, also known as the Siachen Pioneers was tasked with the Search and Rescue (SAR) mission of the injured mountaineer.On receiving the task, daring pilots of Siachen Pioneers immediately began planning for the mission.  Having made the required preparations, within no time two helicopters, led by Wing Commander Amit Jain and Flying Officer Ashish Hungund with Wing Commander H Upadhyaya and Squadron Leader Sameet Bhopi as their No 2 got airborne for the SAR mission.

The incapacitated mountaineers along with his team were stranded just below the Summit of Mt Stok Kangri.  This area had a very steep gradient of almost 70-75 degrees and extremely sharp rocky terrain.  A series of landing attempts from different angles and at different places were made to pick up the casualty. After careful analysis both aircraft landed at a site 100 feet below the position of the casualty at a density altitude of 21000 feet and found this site closest and most suitable for the rescue. It took high level skill and extreme concentration to carry out the landing at this site, as selected site was on a ledge on the mountain slope which had just enough space to accommodate the helicopter and the rotor blades had very little clearance from the mountain terrain.

The casualty was prompted to come down to the selected landing site, by means of a placard from the helicopter. The restricted space and the critical condition of the casualty made the process of emplaning the casualty extremely difficult. With careful attention and handling of the aircraft, the casualty was safely emplaned into the helicopter.  Having ensured the comfort of the casualty, both the aircraft got airborne from accident site for Leh. The formation landed at Leh where the casualty was transferred to a medical facility. The successful casevac added another feather in the cap of the coveted ‘SIACHEN PIONEERS’

The formation leader Wing Commander Amit Jain along with the other pilots of the formation felt extremely proud to have saved the precious life of this young mountaineer. Wing Commander Jain said “success of their mission was clearly visible from the expression of extreme relief and joy on the face of the rescued mountaineer.”  The pilots also mentioned that they were proud to part of Indian Air Force and SIACHEN PIONEERS which has the honour of saving more than 6000 lives till date and is the sentinel of carrying out humanitarian operations in the entire Ladakh region.

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