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Trauma for golden hour care

- No special ambulances, abysmal govt co-ordination impair three-month-old lifesaver system

Ranchi police’s ambitious golden hour system, launched in February this year amid fanfare and lifesaving promises, is in ICU wounded by sheer lack of support from and co-ordination between government departments.

The brainchild of traffic SP Rajeev Ranjan, the system pledged prompt response and medical attention to victims of road accidents to improve their chances of survival. Chief minister Hemant Soren, who had launched the service from the traffic headquarters in Kutchery, had promised special funds for timely trauma care and reinforced ambulance fleet to hospitals. He had even asked police, in the presence of DGP Rajeev Kumar and home secretary N.N. Pandey, to roll out the mission even outside Ranchi. Three months down the line, the existential gestures remain paralysed.

“The CM had publicly promised us a special ambulance for golden hour care. Till date, we are waiting. Our limited resources do not allow us to reach out to road accident victims. Honestly speaking, the GHS (golden hour system) has been the biggest farce,” said an official of Raj Trust Hospital, Tupudana, which was one of the 25 heal hubs chosen to respond to distress calls and linked to the police control room.

Dr Raj, who heads the hospital, claimed that the traffic SP himself wasn’t interested in proper implementation. “Forget ambulances. I understand that organising a special fleet can take time given the way the government set-up works in Jharkhand. But, where is co-ordination? Not a single stakeholder meeting has taken place to activate golden hour care. The system got written off sooner than it was launched,” he said.

Under the system, after receiving a distress call, the police control room was expected to immediately inform the hospital nearest to the accident site and ensure an ambulance equipped with paramedics reached the victim within the first hour or golden hour.

Rinchi Hospital at Kathal More claims it received only two calls since February 1, when the system was launched, but both were invalid in terms of distance.

“The problem was improper co-ordination. Our route includes Kathal More to Kathitand and the Ring Road area. But, we received calls for accidents that happened in distant Harmu and Main Road. Negotiating heavy traffic for 9km and reaching there during an emergency was difficult. It beat the very idea of prompt medical care,” pointed out Dilip Singh who handles transport at Rinchi Hospital.

He squarely blamed the police and administration for such goof-ups. “Trauma victims or their kin are not supposed to know where the nearest hospital is or where to get in touch with for free ambulance service. It was the administration’s job. But, since the traffic mandarins held no meeting, co-ordination has gone for a toss,” Singh added.

An official at KC Roy Memorial Hospital on Circular Road couldn’t agree more. “We have just two ambulances and it isn’t easy to use them when the golden hour demands. Besides, city traffic needs to be improved to reap benefit of the system. If I remember correctly, we got only one patient one night. People don’t know about the golden hour system because of poor publicity. For all practical purposes, the GHS is a big flop,” said a doctor not willing to be named.

Traffic SP Ranjan strangely sounded nonchalant on the issue. “The golden hour system is working,” he tried to wrap up the matter in a vague sentence.

Told that hospitals were complaining of dearth of co-ordination, communication and support from his department, the officer added: “I will try and look into it. Issues are many at our end too; we were busy with the elections and other things. Let me see, what can be done to make GHS more effective.”

Who do you blame for the failure of trauma care?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com