*Air ambulance at Birsa Munda airport, Ranchi
One is left with a highly embittered feeling going by the two recent cases of critically ill patients Shivam Srivastava and the elderly Mr.Uma Shankar Rai, who were badly let down by the Travel Agency/ Aviation Companies running the air ambulances hired for them.
The ambulances had no running medical equipments like oxygen cylinders,ventilators and other life-saving items or sufficient fuel capacity to reach destination like Delhi without the need for refuelling en route which entails serious waste of precious time.
While the medical facilities have improved in Ranchi in recent years, for critical illness doctors at times advise for the patients to be taken to the towns like Delhi or Bangalore or some such places for higher treatment.
Due to the emergency involved,the families of the patients nowadays quite often hire air ambulances to take them to the desired destination/s as fast as possible.The hiring charges are prohibitively high and due to the paucity of time and options , the relatives are not able to negotiate the rates and end up paying the demanded hefty amounts towards hiring charges in advance.
Despite that ,the patients are not rendered proper services resulting in death or enhancement of the criticality of the medical condition.Quite often the relatives and patients have to bear the suffering so caused in silence as they are not able to bring the concerned Aviation companies to task for their callous attitude.
The latter have no sense of concern for the speed and safety of the critically ill patients and their sole objective seems to extort as much of money as possible towards the hiring charges.The serious deficiency of services they manage to get away with. and even local administration has not done something notable in the matter.
The two recent examples of the patients as mentioned above once again highlight the glaring deficiencies in the services rendered by the air ambulances and one waits to see the action that the local Administration or any other related Government Agency takes against the FIRs lodged in the matter.
To narrate the first incident of 11,2023,Shivam Srivastava,a young man of 24 years,who had to be immediately shifted from the Orchid Hospital of Ranchi to the Escorts of Delhi,an air ambulance was hired from Flex Aviation at Rs. 7.5 lacs.
The ambulance wasted precious time in refuelling in the city of Varanasi on way to Delhi. Shivam breathed his last there The ambulance also did not have life -support system.The relatives were forced to pay another Rs. 3.5 lacs for the deceased's body to be flown back to Ranchi by the same aircraft.
Another case pertains to 12th of this month March.Elderly Mr. Uma Shanker Rai had to be taken from a Ranchi hospital to Delhi on medical advice.
A Travel Agency by the name Ansh Travels arranged for an air ambulance for an amount of Rs. 6.75 lacs which included Rs. 25000 extra for the air ambulance to be in Ranchi by 12 o'clock to save time.
An advance of Rs. 6 lacs was paid to one Suraj Kumar on his insistence .But the ambulance of the travel agency arrived at 2.30 p.m. and one Dev Kumar Saw informed the relatives that there was no oxygen cylinder in the flight.
The son Muchkun Rai had to arrange for the cylinder to save time . Later on reaching Ranchi airport for boarding,an argument followed with the pilot Captain Amrit Kumar as the ventilator kept in the air- ambulance was not charged and there was no facility in it to charge the same.The pilot further made it clear that there was no life-saving equipments.
To compound the trouble, due to the limitation of space one health worker of the Ranchi hospital who was to accompany the patient ,could not be accomodated.The relatives decided not to take the patient in that air- ambulance and forced Suraj Kumar to return the advance taken.
Subsequently the patient was flown out around 9 p.m. in another air ambulance arranged with the help of the attending doctor of the concerned Ranchi hospital.Thus, several precious hours were lost in the process.The condition of Mr. Rai continues to remain critical.
As this is a recurring problem of a critical nature related to urgent life-saving medical treatment,one wishes serious enquiry and action from the concerned Government body against the erring Travel Agency/ Aviation Companies.
A grievance redressal system should be created by the government in place to check each air -ambulance in regard to the medical facilities in it.