Save precious lives

The surge in traffic accidents in valley over the past few weeks resulting in the loss of many precious lives has once again generated a debate over the infrastructure deficit in and the delivery mechanism of, healthcare services, especially the accident and emergency service in the state.

The state run hospitals are the only institutions that cater to the accidental emergencies of varied natures; with the twin hospitals of SMHS and SKIMS receiving majority of these cases.

An essential component of modern healthcare system around the world is primarily dedicated to accidents and emergencies, with hospitals having specialized trauma centres equipped to treat critical cases.

These trauma care centres are manned by doctors having specialization in accident and emergency treatment. These centres remain well connected by a chain of ambulance services that essentially are an extension of these centres. Being on call round the clock, these ambulances are fitted with all the life saving equipments, and patients are handled by well trained paramedical staff.

With the basic healthcare services in the state already in shambles and hospitals in valley even unable to take care of the hazardous waste generated by them, setting up of specialized centres to take care of accidents and emergencies seems to be out of question.

Except for the casualty wards, that receives all emergency cases, including the medical emergencies, with mostly internees and general line nursing orderlies taking care of the patients, no separate mechanism to take care of accidental emergencies have been put in place in the hospitals of the valley.

The ambulance services in the valley are a misnomer. In reality there is no ambulance service at all; what we have are patient carrier vehicles, with not even first aid boxes available in these, leave alone life support system. The drivers of these vehicles, in most of the cases, also handle the patients.

The need to have at least one specialized trauma centre in valley hasn’t struck the minds of rulers or the policymakers, even after the catastrophic events of summer 2010, which saw the killing of 117 civilians. Healthcare specialists believe that many of the precious lives would have been saved, had the injured victims been handled carefully and better ambulance services provided to them.

Given the uncertain political conditions prevailing in valley and the incidents of traffic accidents showing an alarming rise in the wake of unprecedented growth in the number of private and commercial vehicles, the state government should seriously conceive the idea of setting up a specialized accident and emergency centre in valley.

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