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What happens to a med emergency on train?

Tuesday - September 11, 2018 11:35 am , Category : WTN SPECIAL

WTN- A few years back Indian railways had started having doctors on board its Duronto trains.  Later, the facility was withdrawn citing technical reasons. Later in early 2017, the service was reintroduced on the train. But not all trains are so fortunate. Almost 13,000 trains run daily on tracks across the country, carrying about 23 m people, but they don’t have doctors on board. Nearly 2 per cent of the Indian population is on trains on any given day. If some medical emergency happens on board, who is going to save their lives?

The railways provide basic training and first aid equipment to the railway guard and/or attendant. In premium trains like Shatabdi and Rajdhani the first aid box is more inclusive with a wider range of essential medicines and the frontline staff are better trained to handle med emergencies on board. Apart, a sick passenger or his kin can call 138 anytime for medical assistance during journey.

There is provision for a train to be stopped at the next nearest station even if it is not scheduled to stop there. The station master of every railway station has a list of all hospitals and doctors, both private and government, in the vicinity of the station and he can arrange for quick transfer of the passenger to the nearest hospital after de-boarding him at the station should that be required. Otherwise, a doctor can be made available at the station for checkup and essential administration of drugs etc so that the passenger can continue his onward journey. But these provisions may not come handy in case of a sudden medical need midway between stations.

At times there is an hour’s gap or more between two stations. What happens then? Sometimes the essential medicine may not be available in the first aid box. What happens then? It may also happen that the staff on board is not able to handle a situation from the limited training he has got. What happens to the patient then? Mostly, the golden hour for medical exigencies is around 60 minutes. If resuscitation is not exercised within that period, death is imminent.  A station may be more than 60 minutes away or the station nearer may not have the required facilities. In these times, the availability of a doctor on board is the only way to survival.

A doctor is a much more authoritative and even without his tools, a much more knowledgeable and much better equipped person to handle an emergency medical situation. No other person, no matter how well he is trained, can be a substitute for a qualified medical practitioner. The line between life and death is very thin and every minute is decisive. Given the long distances Indian trains cover and the remote terrains they traverse, it must be a priority to have doctors on board at least the long-distance trains.

Many lives in their critical stage can be saved if the facility is provided by the railways. 

-Window To News
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