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First-aid box, but no doctors

Abiding the Bombay high court ruling, the Western Railway (WR) has a comprehensive first-aid kit box, with 66 items, including emergency medication, which can provide relief from a heart attack, as well as breathlessness, after a railway accident at its stations.

mumbai Updated: Feb 23, 2011 01:27 IST
Kunal Purohit

Abiding the Bombay high court ruling, the Western Railway (WR) has a comprehensive first-aid kit box, with 66 items, including emergency medication, which can provide relief from a heart attack, as well as breathlessness, after a railway accident at its stations.

But according to the railway manual only a certified doctor or a paramedical staff can open this box.

The WR, however, forgot to mention that none of its stations on the suburban section have a single doctor, who can open this box and provide emergency medical treatment to those in need. Result of this carelessness: 1,716 deaths on the tracks were reported on the WR.

According to the Government Railway Police, 4,123 people died in rail accidents last year.

An appeal filed by activist Samir Zaveri under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 brought this information to light. Zaveri had lost both his legs in a rail accident, at the age of 18.

The RTI application revealed that while there was a stocked up medical aid box available at every station, the stationmaster, in case of an emergency, cannot open this box, leave alone using any of the medicines inside it.

On the other hand, a very basic first-aid kit is given to the stationmasters, to be used by them. This kit, unlike the former, has only 11 items, which has basic first-aid items like an adhesive tape, cotton wool among other things.

The WR, however, said: “Whenever there is an emergency situation, we ask around in case there is a doctor or any paramedical staff around, at the site to step forward and help in times of crisis. We manage to find someone,” said Sharad Chandrayan, WR chief public relations officer.

Zaveri, however said, “The first-aid box contains so many valuable medicines, which could help save hundreds of lives, if used in time. The WR has kept these boxes only for show following the high court order and nothing else.”

A WR official, not refusing to be named, said, “There’s no point in even keeping a doctor at the site. Most accident victims brought to us are already dead.”