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Doctor on call and medical unit for Bagdogra fliers

Bagdogra, April 15: Kishore Ranade, a 56-year-old businessman travelling on a flight from Delhi to Bagdogra, started feeling uneasy soon after takeoff. As the flight progressed, his discomfort increased and the pilot was informed.

He radioed the air traffic control at Bagdogra Airport, setting off a chain of actions at the airport’s medical inspection (MI) room so that Ranade could get immediate medical attention to save his life.

The above is a hypothetical situation that was cited while explaining the medical readiness and facilities which were launched at the airport today. “Passengers using Bagdogra Airport can now rest assured that trained personnel and basic emergency equipment will be at hand in case of any medical emergency,” said airport director K.K. Bhaumik.

Earlier, the airport had only a dispensary where a person with some basic knowledge about first aid would be available. “In the past, we had to rely on Indian Air Force doctors stationed in the base nearby whenever passengers needed medical help,” he said.

To fill this vacuum, the Airports Authority of India had decided to set up the MI room at the airport in collaboration with a professional organisation. “We approached various empanelled nursing homes in Siliguri and found Medica North Bengal Clinic to be the most suited one to fulfil our criteria,” said Bhaumik. This is the first such facility in the Northeast, he added.

The centre will have one doctor and one nurse or paramedic during flight operations, which are from 11am to 5pm. Complete with oxygen backup, ECG, suction machines and other basic medical equipment, the unit will also have an ambulance if a patient needs to be admitted to the clinic.

“Medica North Bengal Clinic has been given the responsibility of providing primary medical facilities at the terminal building. We will man and manage the MI room and the facilities there will be free not only for passengers but visitors and staff as well,” said Alexander Kuruvilla, the CEO and the president of the Medica Synergie, the organisation that runs the clinic now. A nominal payment will have, however, to be made for the ambulance service, he added.

The centre will also provide training to airport and airline staff in handling emergency situations like cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, tourniquet, making splints and other measures. A pharmacy will also be set up in the airport soon. “In due course, we will also start telemedicine connectivity between the MI room and the Medica North Bengal Clinic in Siliguri,” said Kuruvilla.

Speaking at the opening, Salil Dutta, a gynaecologist, said he had been using the airport for the past 38 years. “When the terminal building was a small cottage, I had travelled a lot, and I find Bagdogra to have one of the nicest airports in the country now. Such medical facilities are necessary, especially for elderly passengers.”

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