Thursday, January 21, 2021 | ePaper

Lack of divers can`t make the rescue team fully functional

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CURRENTLY, only 50 divers are employed with the FSCD --- Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, an important unit for rescuing victims in waterways accidents. The unit has remained ill-equipped for decades despite such accidents increasing in the country, as per a local daily reports.
The unit had only 25 staff during its formation in 1990 and it took 30 years for the unit to double its manpower to 50 people. Despite seeking recruitment of 215 divers in 2018 the FSCD was only allotted 25 ?- means that we have barely one diver on average for 42 river stations.
But many of the 25 new divers cannot join in deep diving rescue operations yet as they are still at the training stage. Newly recruited divers need seven months of training on diving, and one to three months of naval training. Then they need to take a year-long professional training. As almost all of the new divers are still in training stages the Fire Service could not use them to its full capacity.
More divers are of crucial importance because whenever an accident occurs on the waterways, these divers are always called in to conduct rescue operations. If a major accident takes place, the FSCD faces enormous problems as small accidents also happen across the country and resources are stretched thin. When these divers are sent to tackle the aftermath of an accident, they cannot conduct rescue operations properly as they are not well equipped.
They cannot even carry out searches at depths greater than 30 feet because they are all shallow water divers. There are 20 divers in Dhaka Division, nine in Chattogram, 6 each in Mymensingh and Sylhet, three each in Khulna, Barishal and Rajshahi. So even if two major accidents take place at a time they are hampered. Plus they remain ill equipped.
This issue is of tremendous importance because at least 3,654 people have been killed while 489 have remained missing since 1991. A total of 570 vessels have sunk in rivers across Bangladesh during this time frame. Of them, 236 were passenger vessels and 146 were cargo vessels, official statistics show.
Fire Service officials opined that the number of divers should be increased soon and all divers should be given training and proper equipment. So it's essential that the concerned Ministry give the go ahead to get more divers --- if they want to save lives, of course.

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