Chhattisgarh is focusing on health care facilities seeds for which were sown last year in form of “Sanjeevani Express”, an emergency ambulance service
Chhattisgarh brings to life the “gory” elements any state would fear – violence, struggle and bloodshed. For over three decades Chhattisgarh and its people have been fighting with all this and have not lost – neither the battle nor the courage to keep combating. Along with the survival issues surrounding this naturally sound state are the development issues which have confined its people to the category of marginalized. Be it the per capita income or employment generation – Chhattisgarh has achieved very little success in providing its people a progressive life.
Even after a decade of independent existence, Chhattisgarh has been unable to get rid of its problem. On top of every issue – rather the basic reason for every issue is the unfortunate but very intense patch of Naxalism in the region. Every development work has to bear the brunt of Maoist Violence. Despite all this the hope, the fight of the state government to work for the welfare of its people is attaining strength.
Education has slowly managed to earn its importance among the locals and now state is focusing on health care facilities seeds for which were sown last year in form of “Sanjeevani Express” – an emergency ambulance service that has proved to be an actual lifeline for its people.
At present, there are 172 ambulances operating in the state covering every block headquarters. In case of medical emergency, anyone can avail of the benefit by dialing 108 from any phone at absolutely no cost. The service was shown a green flag on 25 January 2011 from Capital Raipur along with Jagdalpur District. The service has now reached health centres of every district headquarters.
The Sanjeevani Express is well equipped with basic and state of art instruments to handle the emergency cases on its way to hospitals - oxygen, suction machine, medicines, BP operator and delivery kits besides other high end equipments make these ambulances efficient to handle emergency cases. Along with the vehicle come four types of stretchers which help in carrying patients in difficult cases like – rough roads, fire cases, commuting in hilly terrains and water bound regions. Previously, after a road accident or in other emergency cases there used to be a substantial delay in accessing the treatment. This used to be the reason for many deaths that were caused due to accidents.
But since the advent of Sanjeevani it takes only 15 minutes in towns and 30 – 35 minutes in villages for an emergency ambulance to reach the patient. Toll free number 108 connects directly to Raipur located control room which carries out a conference call between the caller and the Sanjeevani ambulance which is already in a standby mode in the closest proximity and runs for the help of the caller after noting down the details of the location/accident spot.
One of the most special features of this 365 days 24*7 available emergency ambulance is the presence of the specially trained EMT (Emergency Medical Treatment) Staff on board. They provide the patients with the first hand treatment. Besides, in case of complicated situation they take online help from the MBBS doctors after informing them the real situation of the patient. In medical lingo, an hour after the accident is considered to be the golden hour in which life of a patient could be saved. If medical care is provided in this golden hour, then chances of a casualty become very frail.
Dwellers of remote villagers suffer the most in absence of health care facilities and that is the reason it is really commendable to see how this government initiative is creating a difference in the lives of the destitute villagers. Over one year, locals have also developed a sense of awareness towards the facility. They now know the importance of dialing 108 in emergency cases.
Since its launch last year, Sanjeevani has helped maximum in delivery cases. Out of these cases most of the deliveries were carried out in the ambulance itself. According to statistics, from 26 January 2011 till 30th January 2012, Sanjeevani alone in Bastar district has helped in 7303 emergency cases of delivery. Out of these 7303 cases, 620 times a mother has delivered a child in the ambulance itself.
On the night of 9 January this year, Mukesh of Temble village, located 12 km away from the headquarters of the Durgkondal Block of Kanker district, called for Sanjeevani Ambulance to provide medical aid to his pregnant wife Kamta Bai who was suffering the labour pains. Possibility of finding a doctor in this naxal affected region was zilch. EMT staff and pilot present at the headquarters of the Durgkondal Block rushed for the help of the patient. After travelling 10 km the ambulance came to a halt at Amagadh due to absence of road.
They were still 2km away from the destination village. They chose the most feasible and the only option to reach Kamta Bai – they walked down to her house as they were determined to help her despite the hostile conditions. Another challenge was to leave the expensive equipments in the lonely region without any security but the EMT personnel along with the delivery kit rushed towards the village. After crossing 2km of tedious trail in that dark hour, that person reached her house and found she was not in a condition where she could be brought to the place where ambulance was waiting. On the other hand, there was no electrical power in the village. Despite all this, EMT successfully carried out her delivery with the help of torch and delivery kit.
It is one of the rare situations where the ground reality meets what is promised at the launch of any government scheme. People are directly benefitting from the situation and for the first time any government initiative has attracted good response from the Naxals who are all highly appreciating the initiative. In the previous days, seeing Sanjeevani travel from Narayanpur district to Abujhmaad, Naxals did not held back the praise. In fact, they stopped the ambulance, not for the ambush, but to learn how it works.
Healing the lives of several, “Sanjeevani 108” despite its commendable operation in the region has invited criticism of few people due to its few rules and regulations which are considered insensitive.
Last month, due to insensitivity of its staff deployed at the Pankhajoor Hospital one patient lost his life. Deceased Mehtab Singh Rana of Soh village located 2km from Pankhajoor in Kanker District reported serious downfall in health but due to telecommunication services coming to a halt in the region his relative could not call Sanjeevani on 108. One of them rushed towards the Pankhajoor hospital and informed the Sanjeevani Staff who instantly denied to the pleadings of patient’s relative saying they have orders to attend a patient only after receiving a call from Raipur headquarters. For them rules were above someone’s life.
Another glitch in the operation comes when pilot is unaware of the route to interior villages. This delays the time to reach the patient. For this service, we can repeat an old adage here – in front of thousand good, few setbacks can be ignored. This service is a real boon for Chhattisgarh and its people. This is the reason that since its launch till present day, Sanjeevani Express has offered aid to over 4, 94,129 patients – finally, Chhattisgarh has taken its step towards development despite all the odds.
Written by Suryakant Devangan, a Kanker, Chhattisgarh based journalist for Charkha Features and republished here in arrangement with Charkha Development Communication Network.