The Andaman & Nicobar Islands, while being host to some of the most scenic islands on this planet, encounters myriad challenges for connectivity with the mainland in general and within the islands in particular. This predicament became more glaring and predominant during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic which necessitated prompt evacuation of patients from various islands to Port Blair. The Indian Air Force helicopter flight at Air Force Station Carnicobar under the Andaman & Nicobar Command was entrusted the responsibility of airlifting critical patients to Port Blair and have flown numerous missions by day as well as night since June this year.
A dedicated team of pilots and technicians were earmarked as the Covid-19 Evacuation Crew and kept in a state of readiness round the clock so as to get airborne at short notice. The maintenance team has ensured high operational readiness of the helicopters by working 24×7 to enable safe evacuation flying. Strict Covid protocols and preventive measures were instituted for these Air Warriors which included stringent isolation for long periods so as to ensure the crew is available for ‘Covid Safe’ flying for evacuations at any time. Innovative measures by creation of partitions ensured that the patient and crew were isolated from each other thereby reducing the risk of the infection to the aircrew during the flight.
Despite the physical and mental challenges, these motivated professionals displayed exemplary dedication to duty and have been the flying angels for our citizens evacuating nearly 34 Covid-19 patients by air since July 2020. In the past few months the helicopters have also been actively involved in medical evacuation of other critical patients and have evacuated patients which includes five ladies with complications in advance stages of pregnancy endorsing the adage associated with the helicopters of IAF—‘Apatsu Mitram’ meaning a ‘Friend in Distress’.
The unit helicopters and crew continue to be in a heightened state of alertness and are ever prepared to provide yeoman service to our fellow citizens.