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Dhanbad's lifesaver cardiac ambulance grounded

Coal belt heart patients suffer

Praduman Choubey Dhanbad Published 05.08.19, 07:39 PM
The defunct cardiac ambulance outside Red Cross Society in Dhanbad on Monday.

The defunct cardiac ambulance outside Red Cross Society in Dhanbad on Monday. Picture by Shabbir Hussain

A cardiac ambulance, bought for around Rs 80 lakh by the state government during the 34th national games held in Jharkhand in 2011 and then handed over to Red Cross Society of Dhanbad, has broken down.

The cardiac ambulance is in terrible shape, its roof leaks, its tyres have multiple holes in them and its electrical systems don’t work. Hence, patient families of the region are being compelled to hire private cardiac ambulances from Durgapur in Bengal or Ranchi.


“We were running three ambulances, including the cardiac ambulance provided by the district administration, on a no-profit no-loss basis at a rate of Rs 15 per km. But since the roof of the ambulance is leaking we had to stop operating it for over a month,” said Red Cross Society of Dhanbad secretary Kaushlendra Kumar.

On Monday, the Red Cross sent the ambulance to the office of the motor vehicle inspector for an examination, he said, adding that Red Cross did not have the funds to repair the vehicle.

President of Bengali Welfare Society and social worker Gopal Bhattacharjee (59) said he was pained to see the state of affairs.

“The situation is pathetic as serious heart patients have to wait for the arrival of ambulances from Ranchi or Durgapur which takes a minimum of two hours,” said Bhattacharjee, who claims to have donated blood as many as 70 times.

The seven-seater cardiac ambulance is better equipped than most private cardiac ambulances available in Dhanbad district or hired from outside. It has a cardiac defibrillator, a device that detects any life-threatening, rapid heartbeat, known as arrhythmia. If there is arrhythmia, the device quickly sends an electrical shock to the heart. The shock changes the rhythm back to normal. This is called defibrillation.

The cardiac ambulance was handed over to the Red Cross here in February 2013, two years after it was bought by the state government. At the time, it was stationed at the sadar hospital, but never used.

But in September 2013, the ambulance met with an accident while transporting a patient to Singur in Bengal. After that it was grounded again, this time till March 2015. The district administration then repaired the ambulance at a cost of Rs 8.18 lakh of which Rs 2.4 lakh was used to buy a ventilator and cardiac monitor that had been damaged in the accident.

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