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IAF’s dark night airlift, superior coordination with Army rescues jawan injured in forward area

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An Indian Army personnel, whose hand had got severed while operating a machine at a unit in a forward area, was brought to a Delhi hospital after a “dark night airlift” by an IAF C-130J aircraft from Ladakh sector, the entire evacuation efforts being a race against time. The incident took place on April 9 and the jawan underwent a “highly complex nine-hour surgery” for the reimplantation of his hand, including the amputated thumb and index finger, at the Army’s Research Referral (R&R) Hospital here, sources in the defence establishment said on Friday.

The injured soldier, who was stationed in the challenging terrain of Ladakh, was first “swiftly evacuated” to the Military Garrison Hospital in Leh, where he was stabilised by a team of dedicated doctors, they said.

Indian Air Force sources said later he was taken to the Leh air base and from there a Super Hercules airlifted him to Palam air force station in Delhi, racing against time, as only a window of 6-8 hours was available for an emergency surgery to “save his appendage”.

The airlifting followed a decision made by the Army to transport the soldier to the Army’s Research & Referral Hospital for advanced medical care which wasn’t available locally.

The evacuation operation witnessed “great amount of synergy” within the armed forces. The IAF facilitated the transportation “within an hour demand for air effort was made by the Indian Army”, the sources in the defence establishment said.

All this while, the soldier was kept under medical supervision and the amputated part, “preserved in a cold container,” they added. The heavy-lift transport aircraft of the IAF which had taken off from the Hindon air force station in Ghaziabad, carried out night landing at Leh airfield using night vision equipment and evacuated the soldier to Delhi, the sources said. In Delhi, the soldier was immediately moved to the hospital from Palam technical area under medical supervision.

From the time he was brought to the Leh air base to the time he was brought to Delhi, “the span was about four hours,” and this “superior coordination” between the Army and the IAF ensured the injured jawan’s critical surgery could be performed in time to stitch back his severed hand, a source told PTI.

On Friday morning, the IAF posted on X about the emergency airlift and also shared a photo of the patient recuperating at the hospital.

An #IndianArmy personnel severed his hand while operating a machine, at a unit located in the forward area. Given a window of 6 to 8 hrs for emergency surgery to save his appendage, an IAF C-130J aircraft was launched within an hour to move the jawan for surgery at the R & R hospital in Delhi,” it posted.

The IAF official said it was a “dark night airlift” and NVGs (night vision goggles) were used.

“The injured personnel received medical attention promptly due to the dark night airlift on NVGs from Ladakh sector by #IAF. A dedicated team of medical personnel carried out a successful surgery and the jawan is now on his path to recovery,” the IAF wrote in its post.

In April 2023, the IAF, as part of an operation to rescue a batch of people from strife-torn Sudan, had carried out landing and take off of a C-130J aircraft from a degraded airstrip there, with its air crew using night vision goggles on a practically dark night.



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