Ambulance unavailability delays treatment; autorickshaw driver dies in accident in Palakkad

Representational image. File Photo/ Onmanorama.

Agali/ Palakkad: An autorickshaw driver, who sustained injuries in an accident and was denied prompt treatment due to a delay in arranging an ambulance, died here on Saturday.
The deceased, Faisal, also known as Linson, 28, of Ommala Panavechaparambil, was severely injured after a large tree fell on his vehicle around 3 pm.

A huge tree near the Goolikadavu church suddenly uprooted, and one of its branches struck the autorickshaw, slamming open its front portion. Although Faisal was rushed to the Kottathara Government Taluk Hospital, it took another three and a half hours to transfer him to Perinthalmanna in Malappuram for advanced treatment.

The lone Jeevanraksha ambulance attached to the hospital had been under maintenance for the past month. The ambulance, purchased using funds allotted by the Palakkad MP VK Sreekantan, had developed a technical snag in its AC and was shifted to a workshop in Thrissur last month. The hospital authorities have yet to retrieve the vehicle after repairs.
As no ambulance was available, the authorities had to arrange one from Mannarkkad, which reached the hospital by 6:30 pm. As his condition continued to deteriorate, he was sent to a private hospital in Perinthalmanna, but to no avail. Faisal is survived by his wife Sefeena and son Mishab.

Six ambulances in fleet, none in service
The Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance, which has been under maintenance for the past month, used to serve as the primary resort for saving lives in the entire Attappady region.
According to VK Sreekantan MP, the ambulance with ICU support was purchased by spending Rs. 38 lakhs.
"This was the first of its kind ambulance in the entire district. The health department, however, has failed to utilise the service effectively. It did not deploy an adequate number of staff and expert drivers, and the vehicle was involved in accidents on several occasions. This is a serious lapse committed by the government," he noted.

It was only a couple of months ago that the authorities elevated the Kottathara Government Tribal Special Hospital to the status of a Taluk-level facility. Of the six ambulances attached to the hospital, only four are now operational. One of the remaining two has been non-operational for several months.
Among the ambulance fleet, only one vehicle is new, while the others are mostly under repair due to their age and the poor condition of the roads.
The two remaining 108 ambulances, which are currently operational, are the only options left.

Another key issue pertaining to the operation of these vehicles is the shortage of funds for diesel and timely maintenance. Two of the ambulance drivers have been appointed through the Public Service Commission (PSC), while the remaining four drivers have been appointed by the hospital management committee. Even when the vehicle is available, drivers for operating it may not be.
In such cases, people are dependent on ambulances provided by Ramesh Chennithala to Sholayur and the former MP MB Rajesh to Puthur. Meanwhile, the community health centre at Agali has no ambulances. 

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