YK Poudel

Twenty-one officers and 116 constables of the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) completed an intensive professional search and rescue (SAR) training programme yesterday. 

The training designed to enhance the skills and preparedness of the police as the first responders started in April. 

One hundred and thirty-seven police personnel from various field divisions attended the training in two cohorts at the National Search and Rescue Training Centre (NSARTC) at Special Reserve Police Force (SRPF) in Tashigatshel, Chukha.

The NSARTC’s superintendent of police (SP), Lt. Colonel Karma Samten, said that the completion of the training was a crucial milestone for the NSARTC since its establishment, which aims to enhance police preparedness and capabilities.

Rafting training for the police at Wangchhu as a part of SAR programme

“This training initiative underscores the RBP’s commitment to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our community through advanced readiness and rapid response capabilities,” he said.

The SAR training aimed to build a pool of professional SAR responders, enhance preparedness for all types of natural disasters, and position a minimum of one SAR team in every dzongkhag with basic SAR equipment.

Lt. Colonel Karma Samten said the training curriculum included rigorous hands-on exercises, simulations, and theoretical instructions covering various aspects of search and rescue, including search techniques and strategies, rescue operations, coordination and communication, and use of technology, among others, to enhance search accuracy and operational efficiency. 

“Participants received advanced instructions in areas such as wilderness navigation, victim extraction techniques, first aid, emergency medical response, communication and coordination, and the use of specialised SAR equipment,” he said.

A participant, Lieutenant Colonel Sonam Tobgay, said that the training had equipped the police officials to respond swiftly and efficiently to emergencies, ensuring the highest public safety standards.

“Training like this has significantly bolstered the police department’s capabilities in managing and executing search and rescue operations,” he said. “Extending the training to all police officials will help improve response during disasters.” 

He said that in times of crisis, every second counts, and the training ensures that police officials are ready to act swiftly and effectively to save lives and provide crucial assistance.

The police officials were trained in mountain SAR, ground SAR, and urban SAR, which involves location, extrication, and initial medical stabilisation of victims trapped in confined spaces, and water SAR. 

As part of its commitment to community safety, the NSARTC plans to invest in advanced training programmes. 

The SRPF plans to provide SAR and disaster-related training to de-suups, gyalsups, and volunteers at the request of the home ministry. 

The training was conducted in partnership with the Department of Local Governance and Disaster Management.