The death of a 69-year-old French woman due to cardiac arrest during a night stay in a houseboat here last week has highlighted the need to equip tourism police and fire force officials with facilities to quickly transport tourists in times of medical emergency.

Kerala House Boat Owners Association president Jomon Konnakapally said the organisation had been long demanding a boat for the Fire and Rescue Department with modern facilities including medical care and fire-fighting equipment. “But the demand has fallen on deaf ears,” he said.

This boat should be equipped to perform rescue operations and transport patients to Punnamada finishing point and should be made available round the clock. Last Tuesday, the owner of the houseboat reportedly had to hire a private speed boat and transport the patient to a private hospital near the Punnamada Finishing Point, where she was declared brought dead.

Sources in the industry said deployment of persons with knowledge of first aid and rescue operations could have saved the lives of at least three of the four dead in the houseboat mishap here two months ago.

All Kerala House Boat Owners’ Association president Jacob Samuel said the issue had come up during talks with government authorities in the wake of the houseboat tragedy.

Sources said the problem intensified if the boats were anchored in remote areas like the R-Block in Kuttanad. “Speed boats cannot ply their maximum speed at night. The best option then would be to take the road route near the spot the boat is anchored,” said sources.

Another problem faced by the authorities is the lack of good hospitals in Alappuzha. Though some initiatives were taken in the past to set up private hospitals with modern facilities, entrepreneurs had backed out in the face of difficulties.

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