On 01 Nov 2014, in a daring rescue, the IAF helicopters successfully evacuated a mother and her new born baby from a remote and inhospitable region of Ladakh. The request for mercy mission was received from DC Leh, to evacuate a Ladakhi woman in Phuang Phirste area. She was reported suffering due to obstructed delivery. Life of both, mother and child was in danger. In this remote region, without any road connectivity, at an elevation of 16200 feet, far away from civilisation; IAF helicopters were the only hope for the mother and her new born for their survival. Once again, the ‘Siachen Pioneers’, a premier helicopter unit of the IAF at Leh, rose to the occasion to save the precious lives.
On receiving the distress call at 1300h, the pilots promptly gathered relevant information and quickly planned the mission. Within minutes, two helicopters were launched under the Command of Wg Cdr BS Sehrawat, Commanding Officer of the Unit. Phuang Phirste is located in a very remote area at an elevation of 16200 feet, with absolutely no connectivity of any kind to the civilised world. Only a foot track connects the hamlet to the nearest village of Pang. The valley to Phuang Phirste is very narrow and experiences heavy turbulence during afternoons. This calls for skill and courage on the part of the pilots to undertake the mission. Accurate navigation and correct assessment of the prevailing situation ensured that the helicopters reached the site at the earliest which was vital for the survival of the lady and her new born. Severe turbulence in the valley, limited space for manoeuvring and an unprepared dusty surface for landing made the task even more challenging. On reaching the hamlet, Wg Cdr B S Sehrawat got down from the helicopter and enquired about the casualty using sign language. The woman and her new born baby were safely taken onboard the helicopter and pilots wasted no time in setting course back for Leh. The woman was still bleeding and the condition of her new born was also critical. The helicopters landed at Leh by sunset. The mother & baby were immediately transferred to Sonam Norbu Hospital at Leh for further medical attention. The entire operation was supervised by Group Captain Vinay Vittal, the Chief Operations Officer at AF Station Leh.
Wing Commander BS Sehrawat along with other pilots Wing Commander Amit Jain, Squadron Leader Herojit Singh and Flight Lieutenant M Prashant felt extremely satisfied to have saved the precious lives despite heavy odds by way of weather, machine limitations and language barrier. ‘Siachen Pioneers’ have a special connect with people of Ladakh, being their angel in distress in this remote & inhospitable region. The unit recently celebrated its golden jubilee and has over 6400 civil evacuations to its credit. They have been continuously engaged in military operations for over 30 years.