Even as lakhs of people pass through every day, there is neither a medical unit at the station nor an ambulance stationed permanently. The medical unit is particularly needed now to tackle the summer rush.

On May 5, Kunjamma (45) a passenger leaving for Kottayam in Kerala slipped into the railway tracks at Chennai Central Railway Station while attempting to board an unreserved compartment of Trivandrum Mail. She was rescued by onlookers and was rushed to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital after she complained of chest pain. But she died on the way.

Kunjamma might have survived if she had received necessary first aid at the Central Station. But for the past many years, there has neither been a medical unit at the station nor an ambulance stationed permanently.

With lakhs of passengers boarding and alighting from over 200 trains a day, such medical emergencies are bound to occur. In 2010, a woman delivered a child at the station itself and passengers and a police woman had to attend to her till the ambulance came. In 2009, a man who was travelling to Bangalore, complained of chest pain after the train reached Central but died of a heart attack while police were taking him to GH.

According to railway sources, five to six medical emergencies occur happen every month. “In case the passenger has some minor problem, we either bring in railway doctors from the medical centre in the nearby Southern Railway office or we take them to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General hospital on the opposite side in a trolley. The ambulance is either brought from Egmore Railway Station or Perambur,” said a railway source.

Police sources claim that medical emergency cases are more common in long-distance trains passing through Chennai. “Six months ago, a man who was travelling on the train suffered a heart attack. Some police officers helped him. There was also an incident where a lady's ear got cut and she was bleeding badly. But there was no help nearby. There have also been incidents when people fall unconscious due to low sugar levels,” said a source.

Though there is a medical centre run by an NGO on the station premises, the doctor is present there for just two hours a day. “It is possible to transport the sick patient to the Government General Hospital, but the delay happens in getting the trolley and finding the staff to do so. Moreover, we have to first fill in the details about the patient with the platform inspector and then take him to the hospital. This is a time-consuming process,” said the source.

Commuters too feel that there is a necessity to have a permanent paramedical team in the central railway station. “Approximately 250 trains pass through Chennai suburban station and 200 trains leave and come to Chennai Central daily. The medical unit is particularly needed now to tackle the summer rush. Many elderly people travel and they may find it hard to manage the heat,” said Roy Rozario, general secretary of People's Voice.

A senior railway official said that though railway doctors are not present in the station, they are available on call. “The 108 ambulance also attends to our calls in no time. The doctors attend to complaints and treat patients,” he said.

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