Readers might remember an incident of 10 days back when a lady who jumped into Fateh Sagar attempting suicide was saved. All media houses (including UT) lauded the efforts of the rescue team and the boating company for the same. However, the two real heroes who saved the life of the lady went virtually unnoticed.
We now bring to you the complete story of the rescue for the other rescuer – Shanker Sharma. Shanker is a resident of Alwar and is in Udaipur as part of the Summer School programme run by IIM Udaipur.
Shanker and five of his Summer School classmates had gone for a walk on Fateh Sagar that evening. The time was around 7:15pm. As they were walking on the promenade they saw a large crowd gathering and heard a cry for help. They immediately rushed to the spot and saw a woman drowning.
Shanker immediately took off his shoes and put down his laptop bag. He then took out his wallet and mobile from his trouser and handed it over to a complete stranger. Shanker wanted to jump immediately but, being a stranger to the city, was worried whether the lake had any crocodile or heavy grass growths. He asked the people around but got no response. It is there that he spotted an elderly man (70-year old Mahendra Bafna) asking people to jump for helping the lady. Shanker shared his concern with Bafna. On this, Bafna said that he would jump into the lake to assuage Shanker’s concern. Bafna jumped and in less than five seconds, Shanker was in the lake.
Shanker swam to the lady, held her by her hair with one hand to get grip and pulled her body with the other. He swam carrying the lady towards the Fatehsagar wall. Since, the area where the lady had jumped was between two “Chhatris”, there were no stairs nearby. People watching from top tied together sari and dupatta and threw it towards Shanker for support. Shanker held on to the sari-dupatta rope with his left hand and to the lady with his right hand, keeping her nose and ears above water level.
Shanker recalls that there were no rescue boats around and help came in form of a large ferry boat after about 15 mins. In its first attempt to reach Shanker and the lady, the boat failed as it got entangled in the wire-net laid down at Fateh sagar. The boat took a detour and came back for rescue. Shanker’s hands had gone numb by then due to drop in blood pressure and he could not even climb on to the boat and had to be pulled by the boat members.
It is only after all of them had reached the shore did the rescue team come. Police was also there. However, when all of them came shore, there was no ambulance or vehicle ready to immediately take the lady to hospital. Police organised for its own jeep (that again took time) for the purpose.
Shanker and his friends left the scene by the time media reporters came.
While Shanker was happy that the lady was saved, he raised a lot of questions/suggestions in terms of administrative preparations in cases of emergency:
- Why did it take rescue members almost 20 mins to reach the spot?
- Members of all boats/ferries plying in the lake need to be trained in rescue operations. The ferry boat members were not adept and the actual trained rescue team came only after all had reached shore
- The ferry drivers did not have complete information about the lake. As a result they got entangled into wires-net and had to take a detour taking away precious time. Ferry drivers need to be thorough with their knowledge about the entire lake.
- While Police watched all the action, why was an ambulance not called and kept ready? Every second counts in cases of emergency
- There should be a big board with emergency number put up that could be called in such cases. Though people watched that lady drowning, no-one knew how to call the rescue team