Delhi police on their feet to keep the Capital breathing

Relatives of patients at an oxygen-filling centre in the city.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Around 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Atul Thakur received a panic call from Batra Hospital saying their oxygen supply was going to end in two hours. The hospital apparently told him that they have been trying to manage cylinders for the last three days but were unable to arrange.

With other senior officers in tow, he rushed to the hospital and spoke to the management, who were panicking because lives of more than 350 patients were in their hands.

The first task was to identify where they could procure the oxygen from, as the hospital required liquid oxygen tankers. Teams then identified that one oxygen tanker was travelling to GTB Hospital. “But at that crucial point, the driver wasn’t picking the call. We had to trace him and almost intercept him,” he recalled. The team then went to GTB Hospital with the tanker before bringing it to the Batra Hospital.

Meanwhile, police got another lead that an oxygen tanker was coming from Haryana’s Samalkha. But the old hassle surfaced. The driver’s traced location didn’t match with what he was saying. He was finally found in West Delhi and brought to Batra Hospital.

“Amid all this, we were informed that the oxygen had completely run out and some patients were having seizures. The pressure was mounting. Around 12.30 a.m., Samalkha tanker reached and by 1 a.m., the one from GTB too came. We helped them with seven tonnes of oxygen,” he said, adding that over 100 policemen were involved in this mission for five to six hours.

One hurdle after other

Reflecting on the situation, a senior officer termed coordinating as the toughest challenge, besides pointing out that supplies are disrupted as more oxygen is required but there is no arrangement to meet the demands.

“Planning for the second wave was not conducted in terms of oxygen and hospital requirement. There is a huge lack of a tracking system, which would make oxygen supply smooth and check consignment,” he said.

Production of oxygen has not been enhanced as it should have been and internal disputes of several stakeholders appears to have lead to this chaos, sources said of their opinion after observing ground situation. Sources said that many officers are infected in the force and for some, their families are infected due to which they need leaves which seniors can’t deny.

“Much of our resources are diverted to the healthcare situation while we have to ensure the lockdown is imposed and guidelines are followed,” an officer said.

Additional DCP (Outer) Sudhanshu Dhama has been attending distress calls for the last few days. The latest was from Rathi Hospital, who were in a dire situation on Wednesday evening with lives of 78 patients at stake. Mr. Dhama, who was in the hospital till around 3a.m. on Thursday, along with his teams, managed to arrange 120 oxygen cylinders from Bawana, Kanjhawala, Mayapuri and even from another hospital.

“We had to plead with other hospitals,” he said, adding that hospitals are scared to help because of the fear of cylinders running out.

The police are stretched, but they keep on helping the city breathe. “At this point, one cannot say this is not my job because the situation is such. One cannot demarcate. Right now, we are providing help by whatever means we can,” he said.

DCP (North) Anto Alphonse, who had arranged oxygen for NKS Hospital from Mayapuri by going in person, said his control room has been attending to PCR calls from people calling for hospital beds, life-saving injections, oxygen cylinders and even ration. He said they are trying their best to meet their needs while adding that coordinating for oxygen with suppliers is a task at the moment, he said.

Coordination pangs

Pranav Tayal, DCP (Rohini), also said that coordinating with gas agencies for oxygen and then providing it in that short span of time to the hospitals is challenging. “We arranged 50 oxygen cylinders for a private hospital and they were delivered in two hours. They were arranged from Bawana and Khanjhawala,” he said.

According to the data shared by Delhi Police, only 5-10 officials were testing positive till April 4. But the numbers soared to 263 on April 20. There was marginal respite, as it came down to 193 on Wednesday.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 6:54:56 PM |

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