14 Apr 2024  |   06:18am IST


Writer and cartoonist Theodor Seuss Geisel once said, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

Goa has been witnessing fatal accidents week after week and those very moments are turning into unpleasant memories for the survivors as well as the families of the victims. 

Nobody ever wishes to lose a loved one, let alone infants to breathe their last in their parents' arms. On Wednesday, a six-month-old infant died in an accident between a tourist taxi and a bus at Usgao in Ponda. In the aftermath of the fatal accident, questions are being raised on the state of emergency medical services, in particular, the 108 ambulance services provided by EMRI Green Health Services - the government-appointed agency and the capacity for handling emergencies at the primary health centres (PHCs).

Swapnesh Chari of Dainik Herald (sister publication of O Heraldo in Marathi) provided a first-hand, chilling eyewitness report of the accident and the events that followed until midnight on the fateful day (see page 2 of O Heraldo April 12 edition). The accident occurred at 5.45 pm and the first ambulance reached the spot at 6.20 pm, 35 minutes after the accident and 28 minutes after receiving the first information. What did the two ambulances do after reaching the spot? They returned to their spots, as some good Samaritans had shifted the injured to the nearest PHC in private vehicles. The staff of the 108 ambulances did not see it fit to proceed to thae PHC despite knowing the lack of infrastructure at the PHC to provide quality emergency care in such a grave situation. Perhaps, the mechanical routine of following the protocol prevented the staff from being more concerned about the victims. 

In emergency medicine, the golden hour refers to the first hour following a traumatic injury being sustained by a casualty, during which there is the highest likelihood that prompt medical treatment will prevent death. If bleeding can be stopped and the person can be infused enough fluids within the first hour most trauma deaths can be avoided. Platinum ten minutes are the first ten minutes after trauma and refers to the importance of starting first-aid within ten minutes to reduce the chances of death.

In the Usgao accident, had the ambulances reached in a shorter period then the victims would have received first-aid starting from the accident spot. Secondly, knowing fully well about the conditions of the PHC, the ambulances should have proceeded to the PHC, even if it meant bending the rules. We cannot for certain say that the infant’s life would be saved, but atleast we would rest assured that every possible attempt was made to save a life. 

In the past too, O Heraldo has highlighted such shortcomings. These horrific incidents highlight the plight, about which Goans complain very often at any accident site due to delays in the arrival of an ambulance. Very often these verbal complaints are considered rants by ignorant citizens and ignored by the emergency services providing agency, the health department, as well as the police. After every such incident, life carries on as usual, except that someone loses a precious life. 

Goa has excelled in creating a centralised state-of-the-art infrastructure at the Goa Medical College and Hospital in Bambolim, however, urgent attention of the Minister and the department is sought towards correcting the shortcomings in the 108 services and the upgradation of the PHCs, as they are the first responders to any emergency in the villages of the State.


Idhar Udhar