Need medical help at Shimla airport? Wait for 40 minutes!

October 26th, 2010 - 7:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Oct 26 (IANS) In case of an emergency at the Shimla airport, you will have to wait for more than half an hour for medical assistance, a mock drill conducted by the district administration revealed Tuesday.

The drill saw the participation of rescue teams of medical and para-medical staff, police, home guard, fire-brigade personnel and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

“It took 40 minutes for the emergency response teams to reach the airport from Shimla,” Deputy Commissioner J.S. Rana told IANS.

However, Rana said the response time could be reduced to 30 minutes by strengthening the roads linking the hill town to the airport and managing traffic.

The airport, located at Jubbarhatti on an altitude of 2,196 metres above the sea level, is some 20 km from Shimla.

Airport officials said landing at the airport is a challenging task as it is among the three table-top airports in the country.

The runway is called table top because of the deep gorges surrounding it.

“We have arrangements of fire-fighting at the strip level but the left bank of the airport is unconnected so far…though the night landing facility was commissioned in October last year, no night test flight has been operated so far,” an official said.

A health official said in case of medical emergency, there is no other option to dispatching a team of doctors from the Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital (IGMCH) in Shimla.

The IGMCH is located more than 25 km from the airport. “This means medical assistance can’t be provided in less than 40 minutes. This also depends upon the traffic (on IGMCH-airport route) at that point of time,” an IGMCH doctor, who participated in the drill, said.

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had informed the state assembly in March this year that the runway of the Shimla airport has shrunk due to soil erosion and there are plans to restore it.

“The runway of the Shimla airport has shrunk due to soil erosion. Its actual length has been reduced to 3,800 feet from 4,100 feet due to soil erosion,” said Dhumal, who also holds the tourism and civil aviation portfolios.

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