In a unique development, 85 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel, who actively participated in the rescue operations following the devastating train accident in Odisha, underwent a comprehensive psychological assessment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The assessment, conducted by experts from AIIMS-Kalyani in West Bengal, revealed that all the rescuers were found to be "okay," according to NDRF Commandant Gurminder Singh.
The NDRF, a federal contingency force, has recently made it mandatory for its personnel to undergo counselling sessions to evaluate the potential impact of witnessing traumatic events, such as encountering severe injuries, agonizing screams, and retrieving deceased bodies during rescue operations. The AIIMS experts engaged in in-depth discussions with the rescuers and preliminary findings indicate their well-being.
Reflecting on the assessment, Singh stated, "We will analyze if the experts provide further feedback based on their questions and analysis." This initiative aligns with the NDRF's commitment to prioritize the mental health and well-being of its personnel, ensuring timely support and intervention as required.
Earlier, during a similar counselling session held for rescuers involved in earthquake relief efforts in Turkey, experts from AIIMS-Kalyani identified one NDRF member who displayed symptoms of stress. However, the concerned member has since recovered and did not exhibit any long-term effects.
The NDRF Director General, Atul Karwal, shared his observations from the Odisha rail accident operation, recounting instances of personnel experiencing hallucinations and loss of appetite due to the trauma they encountered. The NDRF played a vital role in rescuing 44 passengers and retrieving 121 bodies from the accident site near Bahanaga Bazar railway station in Balasore district. Unfortunately, the death toll climbed to 290 after a 17-year-old resident of Bihar succumbed to injuries.