Reported by Malay Ray
Sundargarh, Apr 5:
The 108 ambulance has been touted as the panacea for the sick and ailing in rural areas in need of immediate medical attention; but an Odisha man’s tryst with this much hyped service turned out to be nothing short of a nightmare.
Not only did Surendra Jaipuria of Laing village under Rajgangpur block of Sundargarh district lose his eight-month old pregnant wife Sangita (and the baby in the womb) because the 108 ambulance reached four hours late, he had the mortification of being beaten up by the driver of the ambulance for his failure to pay the Rs 500 the latter had demanded – that too immediately after his wife’s death. And one thought the 108 ambulance was a free service!
Crestfallen after his wife’s death and shocked by the thrashing by the ambulance driver, Surendra lodged an FIR against the driver at the town police station in Sundargarh.
“We have registered a case after receiving the FIR filed by Surendra Jaipuria. We are now investigating the case,” said PK Jena, IIC, Town Police station.
The hapless man’s ordeal also gives a fair idea about how the Mamata Yojana, which Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik never tires of tom-tomming, actually works at the ground level.
Surendra says he had called up the local anganwadi worker Munu Naik and called the 102 Janani Express after his pregnant wife, who had registered under the Mamata Yojana, took seriously ill on the evening of March 31. But there was no response.
A worried Surendra then called the 108 ambulance at about 6 pm. The ambulance did arrive, but only at about 10 pm while the rules clearly stipulate that it has to reach the patient within 30-35 minutes of the call.
The arrival of the ambulance, however, brought no succour for Surendra as the driver demanded Rs 500 before taking the patient to the hospital. A desperate Surendra pleaded with him to start immediately, promising to pay him the amount after reaching the hospital.
The driver relented and took Sangita to the Sundargarh district headquarters hospital. But by then, her condition had deteriorated and she died during preliminary treatment. Even as a shattered Surendra was grieving over his wife’s death, the ambulance driver demanded his Rs 500. When he refused to pay, the driver assaulted him.
Surendra lodged the FIR against the driver on April 3.