‘Dial 108’ service to be deployed for emergency assistance

For some unfortunate Sabarimala pilgrims, the holy hills are turning out to be an insurmountable barrier — from which, sadly, there is no going back for them. Their hearts stop beating in the middle of the arduous climb to the Ayyappa temple.

This pilgrimage season, the number of casualties from heart attack has been on the rise at Sabarimala. During the first 26 days of the pilgrimage, the toll reached a record 19, five of them on Tuesday and Wednesday. During last year’s pilgrimage, the deaths during the period came to nine. In 2010, it was 13 and in 2011, 12 during those 26 days, official sources say.

Chandran, 43, from Kodungalloor, G. Gunashekharan, 40, from Pollachi, and R. Balasubrahmaniyan, 52, from Chennai, died on Tuesday. Sreedharan, 45, of Kumbala in Kasaragod died in the Sannidhanam Government Hospital and Aravindakshan, 49, of Cherpulasserry in Thrissur district died in the Cardiology Centre at Appachimedu on Wednesday. The bodies have been shifted to Pampa by Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom volunteers.

Emergency project

The Travancore Devaswom Board, the State government and the Kerala Emergency Medical Services Project (KEMP) will be jointly launching an emergency healthcare management project at Sabarimala soon in the backdrop of the growing number of casualties, P. Venugopal, Devaswom Commissioner, says. Mr. Venugopal told The Hindu that the “KEMP Dial 108 in Emergency” service would deploy specially trained volunteers on the Pampa-Neelimala-Appachimemdu-Sannidhanam route and Swami Ayyappan Road leading to the temple.

Health and Devaswom Minister V.S. Sivakumar will inaugurate the project on Monday.

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