A six-month-old baby died of unknown causes on-board the Dibrugarh-bound Rajdhani Express on Wednesday.
A former AIIMS doctor who was in the same train and attended to the baby said her life could have been saved had the train had adequate life saving mechanisms in place.
The baby was travelling to Guwahati (Assam) with her parents — Vijender Yadav, a hawaldar with Indian Army, and his wife Seema — when her condition suddenly deteriorated soon after the train left Delhi.
After announcements were made to reach out to any doctor on board, Dr Kaushal Kant Mishra, orthopaedic surgeon at Primus Hospital, Chanakyapuri, responded and gave her primary cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.
The family was later dropped off at Ghaziabad railway station. But within minutes of de-boarding the train, the baby died. The shocked parents refused to comment.
“I was feeling helpless as there was no life-saving emergency gear to save her on-board. There was no intravenous kit, no oxygen or life-saving kit. Moreover, when we pulled the chain at Ghaziabad station, there was no medical assistance readily available,” he said. The parents were forced to go to a nearby private hospital.
“If a premium train like Rajdhani does not have life-saving equipment, then one can imagine the condition in smaller trains,” the doctor said.
But railways officials said their “primary mandate was transporting people”.
“Barring Duronto, which has a medical officer, paramedic and emergency kit on-board, no other trains are equipped to handle major emergencies. We make a separate list of doctors based on our booking as we give 10% concession under the medical category,” said Neeraj Sharma, chief public relations officer, Northern Railways.
“On trains, we have a basic first-aid kit to handle small injuries; it is available with the train superintendent and guard. Our on-board staff is trained to handle basic injury and CPR. But for major emergencies, we alert our doctors at the next big station to receive the case,” he said, adding, “these medical emergencies are a rarity and our primary mandate is to transport people.”
Dr Satish Gadi, chief medical superintendent, said in their two years of experience with doctor-on-board Duronto, medical emergencies have been a rarity.
“These cases are so rare that it is not financially viable and moreover there are so many coaches; how many emergency kits and trained staff can we ideally have for every train?” said Dr Gadi.