108 Ambulance delay leads to fracas

SHILLONG: The 108 ambulance service seems to be no more as prompt they used to be in the beginning. Maybe, fatigue has set in due to over stressed services in COVID times, but any delay in attending to emergency cases can lead to frayed tempers and even fracas. Like it happened to Juthika Ghosh of Jail Road who was on Friday taken to Woodlands hospital at 10 pm after she complained of vomiting and breathing problems.
After testing COVID positive at Woodlands, she was referred to Nazareth Hospital which is the designated hospital for COVID treatment. The family of Juthika then called 108 emergency services ,which is the laid down protocol for every COVID infected person, to be taken for treatment to the designated hospital. Although someone picked up the call there was no response even after an hour. The family called 108 repeatedly and all the time they were told to wait in the Woodland’s Hospital parking lot.
At 12.40 am the family called again after which the ambulance came at 1 am. There were altercation between the family members of the patient and the 108 personnel. They even said that if anything happened to her, the emergency service would be held responsible.
The Shillong Times called up a senior official of the Health Department on this matter and was told that three ambulances were placed for COVID duty in Shillong city but with the rise in the number of cases, they take time for infection management.
Some medical doctors spoken to said that with rising COVID cases in Shillong, it is no longer tenable to wait for the 108 service. They said family members should be allowed to take the patient
to the COVID designated hospital in their private or hired vehicles since time is of the essence.
Several persons who tested positive and were on home quarantine, had to be taken for their second tests by 108. They found the wait very long and unnecessary.
The COVID protocols laid down by the Meghalaya Government at the earlier stages were very stiff and all who are suspected of COVID symptoms were asked to call 108 to be taken for testing. Now with so many cases daily it is time for the protocols to be revised, feel those who are at the receiving end of the 108 delays.

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