Bearing The Brunt: For kin of deceased at PGI, shortage of ambulances add to agony

Stressed family members of deceased complain that they run from pillar to post to get an ambulance or funeral van.

Written by Adil Akhzer | Chandigarh | Published: June 20, 2016 10:31 am
People using private vehicles due to shortage of Ambulance in PGIMER Chandigarh. Photo by Adil People using private vehicles due to shortage of Ambulance in PGIMER Chandigarh. Photo by Adil

THE FAMILY members of deceased have to bear the brunt of the shortage of ambulances and funeral vans at PGI to ferry the bodies from mortuary. While the shortage has forced the family members to take the bodies in cabs, the PGI has so far failed to address the issue.

The UT Police had, earlier this month, busted a racket running illegal ambulances services inside the PGI. Since then, three ‘registered’ NGOs are operating at PGI to ferry dead bodies.

Stressed family members of deceased complain that they run from pillar to post to get an ambulance or funeral van.

“After calling the helpline numbers, I was informed that vehicles are not available, others said contact a different NGO,” said Surinder Singh, who was looking for an ambulance for one hour to take a body to GMSH in Sector 16 for postmortem on Saturday. “In times of distress, we suffer even more.”

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Nirmal Singh, a resident of Barnala in Punjab, said no NGO was ready to ferry the body owing to lack of ambulance. “I contacted all the ambulance operators. No one was ready to come. They said that they don’t have any vehicle available for outside,” Singh told Chandigarh Newsline. The body was ferried in a private taxi later.

While PGI Director, Prof Yogesh Chawla was unavailable for comment, the Institute’s spokeswoman Manju Wadwalkar, maintained that PGI was “trying to sort out the problem”. “This will gradually end. We are trying to get more ambulances through the NGOs,” she said.

UT Red Cross, Panchkula-based Mata Mansa Devi Sewak Dal, and Lifeline are currently providing services to the public from their around 20 ambulances and funeral vans at PGI. Their members, however, admit that there is a ‘shortage’ against the required demand.

“After the transparency in the system, less number of ambulances available to meet the demand. We are trying our best to meet the required demand,” said Sushil Kumar, who handles the UT red cross transport.

As per the PGI mortuary records from Tuesday to Saturday, less than 50 per cent of the bodies were transported in the ambulances operated by NGOs. Others used private vehicles and personal transport.

Records show that of the total 29 and 22 bodies on Tuesday and Wednesday, only 12 bodies were transported by the NGO vehicles. On Thursday, out of total 26 bodies, 11 were ferried by ambulances. 32 trips were made private taxi operators outside the PGI for two days. The situation was not different for Friday and Saturday with lesser number of ambulances provided by these NGO’s.

On Sunday, when this reporter called on the UT Red cross helpline number, the operator informed immediately that no vehicle was available that could go outside Chandigarh. “We don’t provide vehicles on Sunday. Vehicle is available for city only,” said the operator. Calls made to lifeline went unanswered for an hour. Mata Sewak Dal officials said their four ambulances are “working round the clock”.

Racket: Accused still at large

The UT police are yet to arrest the two main accused in the illegal ambulance racket. The two accused, identified as Gagandeep Singh, alias Fauji, along with Satti, are on the run . Police said they would be arrested soon.

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