Thousands of passengers walk in and out of railway stations in the city every day. God help them should they have a medical emergency.
A majority of the stations lack basic emergency medical care facilities. Only two — Central and Tambaram stations — have round-the-clock emergency medical centres.
Statistics point to the need for basic medical aid at all railway stations. For instance, the ‘108’ ambulance has attended to 80 calls from four railway stations over the past three months, while the emergency medical centre at Chennai Central has treated 600 passengers since its inception on April 15, this year.
Calls to ‘108’ from railway stations are usually about people who have fallen ill at stations or in transit and require immediate medical attention.
Two kinds of cases are reported — medical (dehydration, fever, dizziness, abdominal pain and chest pain) and trauma (fall from height, fall on the platform and train traffic accidents). Labour pain, food poisoning and injuries while crossing tracks are also reported.
In March, there were 28 medical cases and nine trauma cases. April saw a total of 12 medical cases and nine trauma cases, while in May, there were 14 medical cases and eight trauma cases, an official of EMRI, which handles the ‘108’ service, said.
“The callers include Railway Police Force personnel, train guards and passengers,” the official said.
Though setting up medical units at all stations may not be possible, facilities for stabilisation of emergency patients could be provided, he said. A senior government doctor said first-aid facilities, including provision of intravenous fluids, are a must at every station.
Last year, the Madras High court directed Southern Railway to establish an emergency medical care centre for passengers at Central after a petition was filed citing two passenger deaths due to absence of medical aid at the station.
On April 15, this year, SRM Institute for Medical Sciences established a 24-hour free emergency medical centre at the railway station. Since then, nearly 600 persons with various ailments have been treated at the centre.
Last month, a private hospital teamed up with the Railways to establish a similar facility at Tambaram railway station. Both the medical centres are equipped with emergency facilities and round-the-clock doctors.
However, other big stations like Egmore and Perambur lack medical facilities. “We have first-aid kits, but no doctors or nurses. In Egmore, we have to rely on doctors located near the station and in Perambur, there is the railway hospital nearby,” said an official.
T. Ravikumar, president of All India Rail and Bus Passengers Association, said medical teams should be present at all important railway stations. “The platinum 10 minutes are crucial in emergency cases.”