Odisha

Dilemma: Ambulance Services To Follow Protocol Or Humanity?

**Bhubaneswar:** When all guns are pointed towards the hapless driver, blaming him for the Malkangiri shame, and the 108 ambulance services of the State is under constant attack, when the CDMO has filed an FIR at Mathili police station against the driver, a pharmacist and an attendant who were in the ambulance, it should be pointed out that the protocol of the ambulance services do not allow them to transport the dead.

“The whole incident of Malkangiri is very unfortunate. I would like to correct the version of the incident. No one dumped him midway. Though we do not have the protocol of carrying dead bodies, still the driver transported the parents with their dead daughter, on humanitarian grounds for 20 kms and left them at a place they had asked to be dropped at. From there, the government ambulance had carried them to their home,” said Sabyasachi Biswal, State Head, 108 and 102 Ambulance Services.

“On a daily basis, the 108 and 102 ambulance services cater to the needs of around 3000-3500 people. When we provide services to over 1,00,000 people every month, one or two lapses are imminent, which may occur due to communication problems or infrastructural difficulties. We will discuss these issues with the higher authorities and will sort out the problems,” he added.

Notably, another poor tribal man, Dinabandhu Khemudu of Malkangiri district in Odisha was allegedly spotted on Friday walking six kilometers carrying dead minor daughter on his arms as the 108 ambulance left them fending for themselves midway.

Dinabandhu’s 6-year-old daughter, Barsha, was admitted to Kudumuluguma Community Health Centre (CHC) on Wednesday. As her condition deteriorated, the father shifted her to Mathili CHC on Thursday. The Mathili CHC doctor referred her to the Malkangiri District Headquarters Hospital but she expired halfway while being ferried by 108 ambulance.

The father, however, rushed the girl child to the Pandiripani CHC midway for a check-up where the doctor declared her dead.

“The driver left me in mid-way with my dead child, some seven kilometers away from my home,” said the helpless father.

“According to the protocol, they should carry the dead to the nearest health centre,” said Arati Ahuja, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department when media persons questioned her about the duty of the ambulance when a patient dies mid-way.

“Meanwhile, Malkangiri Collector K. Sudarshan Chakraborty ordered for criminal proceedings against the concerned 108 ambulance driver and an FIR has been filed in the Mathili Police Station.

Now, some questions arise regarding the so-called ‘Malkangiri Shame’. “Have the authorities taken a quick action against the drivers and others without proper investigation, just to pacify the public outcry?’ Are the political parties just playing politics on real-life misfortunes which needs to be redressed? Is the driver being punished for going out of the turn, to help the parents of the dead girl for some distance, instead of breaking all the protocols and leave them till the end? And the last and most important, should the Health Services follow the protocol or go for humanitarian gestures?

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