When I was first commissioned in Base Hospital Delhi Cantt in 2019, I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard stories from our seniors and the patients coming from places that I had not even heard of before but I don’t think that was enough to prepare us for what awaited us. Medical officers basic training course do give a slight orientation but experiencing Combat scenarios and providing medical care in such extreme conditions is just something indescribable. There have been many challenging situations in my tenure here at Kupwara as RMO, but some leave a lasting impact. On the evening of 15 January 2021, 12 personnel left for an area domination patrol during an inclement weather. It was already snowing heavily and when the personnel left for the patrol with snow about 5-5.5 ft deep, visibility no more than 40-50 meters and temperature around minus eleven degree Celsius.
Around half an hour into patrol, a 25 year old Sepoy suddenly fell and became unconscious. The soldiers with him, heard him fall but due to such less visibility, they were unable to trace him. After searching for about 10-15 minutes, the Sepoy was found wheezing. Naturally, this was followed by alarm and a call for the doctor was made and I was informed.I quickly geared up, collected my first aid rucksack ready for such emergencies and started the climb. It took me 35 minutes to reach the patient and there I stabilized him and took a call to bring him to the nearest MI room. Even getting the patient to the MI room just 700 meters away was a gigantic task due to the ongoing heavy snowfall and snow accumulation. It took 70 minutes. Nevertheless, the most important task was yet to be done.
The patient wasn’t maintaining oxygen saturation. I had stabilized him and kept him on oxygen but I couldn’t have held the fort for long. The patient, a Priority 1 category for evacuation. But, because of bad weather, heavy snowfall and very low visibility, no way the pilot would have agreed to fly. I explained the condition of patient to my Commanding Officer and informed him that we urgently required a helicopter effort to evacuate the patient and the Commanding Officer was successful in persuading the Army Aviation branch to land in such conditions. It took merely half an hour for some forty men to clear the snow at helipad, suitable for landing. Till then it had already turned dark, 04 personnel stood at the corners of helipad with IR lamps for marking the landing ground. The helicopter landed and the Casualty was quickly evacuated to nearest hospital thus saved a soul against all odds. This incident, a lifetime learning experience for myself displayed the loyalty of the men, guardianship of the Commanding Officer and a real-life enactment of how brilliantly arms and services go hand in hand while taking care of our own. Not to toot my own horn but since that incident I realized the faith and regard, the troops have on their RMO is a real motivation and driving force not only for me but all Fauji doctors serving the troops.