it was certainly an eerie feeling yesterday in Sri Lanka, when for the first time in my life, I did not hear a single cracker at the time of lighting the hearth, first meal etc. It was the same in other parts of the country. Anyway, hope everyone had a peaceful and happy NY and Easter. Let me share some events which I hope will gladden your hearts.
Saving our younger generation,…..and anyone else in distress….
At the time when Wuhan was the epicentre of the (then) epidemic our President sent a SriLankan Airlines plane to evacuate 33 students trapped in Wuhan City. The Captain called for volunteers and a crew of 16 set off for Wuhan, never having flown there before. Not knowing where they could land in case of an emergency, the crew set off in their “space suits” after getting a special training from the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Wing of the Air Force. And UL 1423 brought the students safely home on 1st February. Sri Lanka’s first local case was diagnosed 6 weeks later, the same day the WHO declared the pandemic.
On 7th April, it was the turn of the Sri Lanka Navy. The luxury Cruise ship ‘MSC Magnifica’ with 2550 on board was heading home to Italy from Australia after a rather unsuccessful voyage, and was due to anchor outside Colombo harbour for refuelling and essential supplies. The only Sri Lankan on board, a 31 year-old chef, sent frantic appeals to the President on Facebook, asking for permission to disembark in Colombo. A team of the Navy’s CBRNE Unit, wearing full PPE, was dispatched to the cruiser, 5 nautical miles out at sea, and the young man was brought home. The ship’s captain then requested Sri Lanka to accept a passenger who needed hospitalisation for a “heart condition”, and the navy did a second trip, to bring the elderly patient who was on a stretcher. The 75 year-old German lady is now receiving treatment at NHC and the young man is in quarantine.
That’s not all. Yesterday, our Navy received an appeal from a Liberian Container ship, MSC Taranto, to accept a suspected COVID-19 patient, a 36 year-old seaman from the Philippines, for hospitalised treatment. The Navy CBRNE sprang into action, this time putting into practice the well rehearsed SOP for accepting COVID-19 patients at a Port.
Cheers for our men (and women) manning the skies and the seas. Those on land are doing a fantastic job too. That’s another story for another day.
Motto: Young or old Rich or poor Ill or well Save them all.