108 AMBULANCE SERVICE SHORTFALLS

— Yusuf Khan, Vasco da Gama 

AS A patient I got a chance to travel in an 108 ambulance from Chicalim Health Centre to the GMC last year on November 18, at around 8pm. It was a nightmare ride for me. I had fractured my backbone (spinal cord) and was referred to the GMC since Chicalim hospital had no X-ray facilities.

 I was unable to control myself on the stretcher inside the 108 ambulance as no belt was tied around my waist to hold me firmly down. Hence, whenever the driver braked my body moved up and down causing severe pain and perhaps damaging me further. It is pertinent to note that I was transferred from one stretcher to another while I was experiencing multiple pain all over.

My request to ambulance authorities is to have such stretchers where a patient is not made to move from one stretcher to another, as it is a fact that a patient being transported in an ambulance is apparently not mobile and may have a fracture or injury. 

To add to my misery the ambulance attendant after reaching GMC asked me if I had collected my case papers from Chicalim hospital which has referred me to the GMC! Isn’t it the responsibility of the ambulance attendant to check all this out before the trip? Instead of rectifying his shortcoming by calling up Chicalim Hospital to have the case papers delivered courtesy someone whom I knew, bothering me to direct the instructions. All this while the ambulance was entering the GMC!

I have to thank well-wisher Dr Kuldeep Meena who attended to me at the Chicalim Hospital. On my request he immediately sent the papers by WASP to the doctor in attendance at the GMC, had he done so I would have been really in a needless situation at that time of late evening hours. 

Ambulance services leave a lot to be desired. In contrast the Casualty ward doctors were quick to respond and attend to me without wasting a minute. I was advised x-ray and the section was very congested, making it a cat and mouse game to fix up my stretcher in the x-ray room; here I was advised  by the x-ray technician to be once again shifted from stretcher to x-ray table, a most difficult and painful task.

My neighbour who had accompanied me in the ambulance was a slight person and one more person was required to do the needful. When I requested the x-ray technician he was not ready to help lift me! However, a known person from Vasco, Malcolm Dias, who was standing outside and seen my plight came to help and my x-ray was done.

These are issues other patients too face. May I request Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, who happens to be from my native place, to rectify such lack of empathy and service on the part of these 108 ambulance attendants? To improve the ambulance facility so that patients are not put to such hardships even if they are not senior citizens like me. Ambulance services must be as good as the services of doctors, nurses and other medical staff attending to a patient!

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