Petition has sought 24-hour emergency care centre

Coming to the rescue of railway passengers who need emergency medical care, the Madras High Court on Thursday directed the railway administration to state by November 29 when it would provide the facility at the Chennai Central station.

The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice M. Y. Eqbal and Justice T. S. Sivagnanam, passed the order on a public interest litigation petition seeking a direction to the General Manager for setting up a permanent, 24-hour emergency medical care centre at the railway station.

In the petition, A. Malathi, an advocate, stated that on May 5 a senior citizen, Kunjamma, slipped and fell on the track while attempting to board an unreserved compartment of the Thiruvananthapuram Mail. She succumbed to injuries due to lack of medical facility on the platform.

The train had come to the station just 10 minutes before its scheduled departure time. The victim was caught in the rush and fell. Other passengers took her to a nearby hospital, but she died on the way.

In another incident, a passenger, George, died following a cardiac arrest.

He struggled for life on the platform for more than an hour and a half, but did not receive any medical attention despite co-passengers informing the authorities.

Indifferent attitude

The petitioner said the two incidents “show the poor social obligation and indifferent attitude of the respondent (Railways) to the growing needs of passengers.”

Fatal delay

Both persons might have survived had they received necessary emergency medical care at the railway station itself.

Though the General Hospital was nearby, usually much time was consumed in getting permission from the authorities and taking the victim for treatment.

Emergency situation

Emergency health issues such as low or high blood pressure, low sugar and cardiac problems were common nowadays. Possibility of such a condition developing was high in crowded public places such as Chennai Central.

When the matter came up, standing counsel for the Railways took notice.

Posting the matter for November 29, the court said that in the meantime, counsel should seek instructions and file the counter affidavit mentioning the time period by which it would provide medical care facility at the railway station.

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