Srinagar: As war clouds hover over Kashmir, are its hospitals prepared to deal with war wounds?
Administrators of major hospitals in J&K woke up to “high-alert” only after the air strikes carried out by Pakistan on Wednesday. Soon after the incident was reported in the media, officials entered into panic mode. Those in charge of tertiary-care hospitals in Srinagar ordered the painting of the Red Cross mark on roofs of hospital buildings, and stocking of medicines.
“It takes an air strike to wake up the hospital authorities,” remarked a doctor at one of these hospitals.
An official at SMHS Hospital told Kashmir Reader that they had not received any directions regarding war preparedness.
“We are painting the rooftops of the hospital red of our own, as it will save us from air strikes during actual war,” he said.
According to him, SMHS Hospital doesn’t have a separate Triage room which is required for emergency situations when mass casualties occur.
“Triage rooms help doctors to prioritise the injured persons. Lack of such facility is a big negligence at a time when the region is going through a war-like situation,” the official said.
Similarly, Lal Ded Hospital authorities employed workers to paint the Red Cross emblem atop the new hospital building.
“We have put the necessary sign on the roof this morning. But, there is no direction from anyone. The building also has three flicker lights in place to guide aircrafts and jets,” said Dr Shabir Seddiqui, Medical Superintendent of LD Hospital.
The GB Pant Children Hospital, which is in close vicinity of the army’s Badami Bagh Cantonment, also painted the Red Cross emblem this evening, as per a hospital official.
Director of Health Services Kashmir, Dr Kunzes Dolma, said that a fresh alert had been issued for all hospitals under its jurisdiction.
“We have asked the district officials to store enough medicines and other essentials. Leaves and vacations are already cancelled,” she said.
Dr Dolma, however, admitted that hospitals under the Directorate of Health Services, Kashmir (DHSK), do not have Triage rooms.
“Frankly speaking, such arrangements are not in place in our hospitals. I will issue directions to set up these facilities,” she said.
She also expressed ignorance about the presence, if any, of rehabilitation centers and makeshift hospitals along the Line of Control (LoC).
“I will have to check whether any such facility is present anywhere,” she said.
As per guidelines issued by the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), all medical units and medical transport should be clearly marked by the Red Cross or Red Crescent emblem, of the largest possible size, to enhance their protection.
“The emblem is the visible sign of the protection conferred by the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols,” the guidelines say.