SRINAGAR: An ambulance ferrying pellet victims from a Kupwara hospital arrived at the SMHS Hospital’s emergency unit.
Before the injured were taken inside the hospital, attendants who had been waiting for the ambulance for a long time jumped into it, causing a tussle among themselves for a foothold in the vehicle.
A person, one among many volunteers managing affairs at the hospital, made an announcement on a loudspeaker for discipline. But his voice went unheard, forcing half a dozen volunteers of Social Reform Organization (SRO), an NGO, to push themselves into the crowd to carry the wounded into the hospital.
As the ambulance departed, attendants of three patients injured in police action at Kupwara were left behind. One of them had been waiting for two days for the ambulance, and the others for one day.
It has been a daily scene at Srinagar hospitals since the ongoing uprising began on July 8, as the number of ambulances is insufficient to carry the high-number of people wounded during protests daily.
There are only 25 ambulances available in the main hospital of the Valley. Of them, the hospital owns only eight, while 12 are owned by Help Poor Voluntary Trust, three by Athrout, and two by SRO.
“My patient was discharged a few days ago and I could not take him home because there was no availability of transport. My pleas before the hospital authorities and NGOs, which have ambulances, did not prove helpful. I had no choice but to wait,” Ali Mohammad, an attendant who has been waiting for the ambulance for two days, told Kashmir Reader.
“I could not make my way into the ambulance, so I will have to wait for another ambulance to arrive,” he said.
The SMHS Hospital, the oldest hospital in the Valley, does not have a mortuary or hearse vans.
Often, a dead body waiting for an ambulance to arrive is kept openly in the emergency ward.
In this situation, SRO has kept its ambulances available to ferry only patients and its attendants.
“On a daily basis, we take between 10 to 40 patients and attendants,” Javeed Ahmad, who is associated with SRO, said.
His organisation spends between Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 on petrol a day.
It is run by students, with mostly engineers and scholars driving the ambulances.
Javeed, who is perusing his Ph. D in English at Kashmir University, is one among many such drivers.
“In the morning, we take dialysis patients and in the afternoon we take other patients. The situation is so grave that there is nobody for these patients to take them home. Sometimes, a patient who just has to travel 2 kilometers has no one to take him home,” he said.
Ali Mohammad, an in-charge transport of the hospital, said the hospital ambulances were mostly used to ferry the injured, dead and doctors.
As the rush of patients was high, most attendants have to wait for the ambulances, he said.
Farooq Ahmad, an administrator of the Help Poor Voluntary Trust, said the NGO’s ambulances too were always on the move.