Delayed help for sick man - Police station sends van long after trader reaches hospital

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 6.09.08

A middle-aged man who collapsed after a heart attack in central Calcutta on Friday found several people willing to help him but it wasn’t until an hour had elapsed that he received medical attention.

Businessman Mohan Khettri, 58, could have died on the pavement as much for the police’s delayed response to the SOS from a bystander as for the general lack of awareness about how to deal with such an emergency.

Sweating profusely and slipping in and out of consciousness, Khettri lay next to a cyber café opposite one of the Metro Railway exits at Chandni Chowk for around 50 minutes before being put on a taxi and taken to Medical College and Hospital.

A traffic sergeant who was passing by assisted those who were trying to revive Khettri, but the police team that was supposed to arrive with a vehicle from Bowbazar — a 10-minute walk from there — came long after the man had been admitted to the hospital.

“The Lalbazar control room had been informed about a man being found unconscious around 5pm. They sent word to Bowbazar police station but nobody came. We couldn’t figure out what to do, especially where to get an ambulance. Some people said that taking him in a taxi, which we later did, would be risky,” said Chayanpreet Anand, the cyber café manager who was the first to notice Khettri.

Anand was speaking to traffic sergeant Chandan Mukherjee after stopping his motorbike when a Metro reporter noticed the commotion in front of the cyber café. A youth, Anirban Saha, said he had informed the Lalbazar control room but nobody had come.

A call to Bowbazar police station elicited the usual response. “Our team is on the way,” the officer on duty said.

The sergeant had by then stopped a taxi, requested the passenger to get off and sent Khettri to hospital along with a constable, Debkumar Singh, and a contract worker of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, Bishu Das.

A doctor in the emergency ward of the hospital confirmed that Khettri had had a “massive heart attack”. His two sons, wife and brother reached the hospital a little after being informed about his condition. The family shifted him to a private hospital.

An officer admitted that the police should have acted swiftly. “The system is such that after receiving information of an incident like this one from Lalbazar, a police station has to send a team to verify it. We are required to then call Lalbazar again and confirm that an ambulance is required,” he said.