‘Five lack even the basic first aid’
Sopore: Poor ambulance facility at the Sub-district Hospital Sopore in Baramulla district, along with a hefty fee charged for ferrying patients, has become a major concern for local residents.
Most of the critical trauma patients, especially from road traffic accidents, are referred to Srinagar, but five of the six ambulances at the hospital lack even the basic first aid facilities, officials said.
According to hospital staff, almost 30 to 35 critical patients which include cases of road traffic accidents, falls, poison and other critical cases get referred to different hospitals in Srinagar every month and on average five patients either die on the way or on reaching Srinagar hospital due to non-availability of required support in ambulances.
The ambulance service is only being used as mere patient transport vehicle, that too on hefty charges.
“The ambulance should ideally be equipped with a heart monitor, a defibrillator, an echocardiogram, oxygen supply, intravenous fluids and blood substitutes (in case of loss of blood),” a senior doctor at the hospital said. It must also have trained paramedics, he added.
“The Sopore hospital does not have a proper ambulance facility for trauma victims to reach to the Srinagar hospital within the crucial time,” another employee, Sajad Khan said.
An employee posted in Minor Operation Theatre of the hospital added that patients are charged Rs 1150 for ambulance trips to Srinagar, which he said, is quite a lot for a poor patient.
“Recently an attendant from Warpora area of Sopore refused to take ambulance facility from us as he was not able to pay the amount,” he said.
Of the six ambulances, staffers said, five lack the most basic first-aid kits and oxygen masks. Besides, the ambulances are extremely dirty.
Riyaz Ahmad, a member of Civil Society Sopore, told Kashmir Reader that availability of better ambulance service on affordable rates was a long pending concern which the authorities are in no mood to discuss.
“We requested the concerned officer many times but he paid no heed towards this genuine demand,” Riyaz said.
Block Medical Officer, SDH Sopore, Dr Sami confirmed that out of six ambulances only one is equipped with critical emergency facility.
Asked about the lack of facilities in the rest of ambulances, Dr Sami said, “This is the story of every hospital in Kashmir”.
About the hefty rates changed for ambulance trips, Dr Sami said they charge as per the government circular according to which people have to pay “per litre petrol rate for every seven kilometres distance”.
“So whatever the charges come people have to pay and we can’t do anything about it,” he said.