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No ambulance for rail commuter

mumbai Updated: Oct 03, 2009 03:00 IST
Rachna Pratihar
Rachna Pratihar
Hindustan Times
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A 45-year-old unconscious woman was ferried between hospitals in a rickshaw for three hours because railway authorities refused to arrange for an ambulance.

This despite a recent high court ruling that the railways have to provide an ambulance to those commuters who are sick or injured on railway premises.

Boisar resident Lata Khunte (45), fell unconscious on platform 4 at Vasai railway station at around 3.50 pm. Four porters, three women Home Guards and Government Railway Police (GRP) constables rushed to her rescue.

“We asked station master Rajendra Prasad to arrange for an ambulance but he told us to ferry the victim in a rickshaw,” constable Milind Satav of Vasai GRP told Hindustan Times.

GRP officials took Khunte to Navghar Prathmik Aarogya Kendra, Vasai, in a rickshaw. There, doctors told them her blood pressure was rising, and that she needed to be shifted to a better-equipped hospital.

The GRP again asked Prasad for an ambulance but were told it wasn’t available.

“After much struggling, we managed to arrange for an ambulance from Lion’s Club and rushed Khunte to Bhagwati hospital where she was admitted at 7.30 pm,” Satav said.

The ambulance bill was Rs 1,500. On Friday morning, when the GRP went to the station master’s office with the bill, the shift had changed.

“The station master refused to pay saying he hadn’t been on duty at the time of the incident. He told us to ask Prasad for the money,” said Senior Inspector Namankit More of Vasai GRP.

Left with no option, the GRP paid Rs 300 of the total amount.

“The railway authorities have refused to clear the rest of the amount. I’ve given a written complaint to the GRP and they’ve said they will foot the bill from their own pocket if nothing works out,” Jaywant Jaipal, the ambulance driver, told Hindustan Times.

“We expect the railway authorities to cooperate with us so a life can be saved. If this is their attitude, no agency will give us their ambulance,” More said.

Khunte’s condition is reportedly serious and she has not regained consciousness.

Dr Shashikala Nadkarni from Bhagwati hospital, said, “The woman (Khunte) is still unidentified as no one from her family has come to us yet. Her condition is serious.”

C. Nitin Kumar David, deputy public relations officer, Western Railway, said: “On Thursday, as soon as the deputy station superintendent was informed by the GRP, the victim was rushed to the nearest government hospital in a rickshaw as an ambulance was not available. Payment for the rickshaw was made by the railways.”