Around 150 people were Wednesday rescued from an inundated G B Pant Hospital after waiting there for four days.
In the past 78 hours, and after more than 50 visits by rescue boats, the Army managed to evacuate around 500 patients, doctors, children and staffers from the hospital. In the past four days, 20 newborns and a few others died at this hospital due to lack of power and medical supply.
On Saturday night, when an autorickshaw driver told Dr Sarfaraz Ali Bhat that “a three-storey water wall is approaching” the hospital, he thought it was a rumour.
“At around 2.30 am (Sunday), water started rushing in. We shifted the patients to the second floor. The power was cut off and ventilators were running on power back-up. But, after 90 minutes, it also failed. We then started using ambu bags; relatives of the patients were manually pumping oxygen. By the afternoon, two patients died. Another died in the evening. At 8 pm, the first Army boat arrived ,” said Dr Bhatt. The Army boats kept evacuating patients, women and children — even newborns — all through the night.
At around 8 am on Monday, doctors were evacuated for the military hospital. While the move helped the situation at the relief camp, the condition at the G B Pant Hospital worsened. “I thought it was qayamat. The third and the fourth floors were crowded. There was no light and no life support,” said Nisar Ahmed from Anantnag.
Ahmed’s family was rescued in the evening, but several others continued to suffer. “The rooms were filled with dirt. I had come from a hospital in Kupwara along with my son. But on Monday, my son died due to lack of oxygen. Around 20 other newborns died over those two-three days,” said Mohd Arif Lone of Kupwara as he waited outside the field hospital for the body of his son.
“At the G B Pant Hospital, in one day, out of 11 children who were in incubators, 10 died. In all, there were 80 children at the hospital. We created pediatric wards in the military hospital,” said Colonel Brijesh Pandey of 15 Corps.
People at the hospital had to survive on glucose from the supplies to get through the four days.
With only seven boats at their disposal at the Badami Bagh cantonment, the Army’s efforts appeared too little in view of the magnitude of the calamity. However, by Wednesday evening, an Army officer announced, “We have vacated the G B Pant hospital.”