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Times of India
6, March 2010
By Jayanta Gupta
Kolkata, India

On The Right Track
The non–stop Duronto Expresses will soon have full–fledged medical facilities on board for passengers.

The Railway Board has decided to start a pilot project on all Duronto trains for a period of one year. Railway zones have been directed not only to provide doctors and paramedics but also to make necessary modifications inside rakes for oxygen cylinders, intravenous drips, extra lights and plug points for resuscitation equipment.

“This will be a free service for passengers who fall ill during the journey. Every train will have a general duty medical officer (GDMO) and paramedical staff. At present, the services of GDMOs and paramedics are utilised at various railway medical units by employees. Wherever necessary, zones will have to outsource. Till this is possible, existing manpower will be used by making necessary adjustments,” a senior official said.

According to the ministry circular sent to all general managers, two berths in 2AC compartments will be booked for doctors, paramedics and equipment. The GMs have been directed to procure latest equipment that may be required to diagnose the condition of a patient. These include ECG machines, opthalmoscopes and glucometers. Railway zones will also purchase equipment required for emergency treatment such as AED defibrillators, portable suction apparatus, oxygen cylinders, nebulizers, medicines and disposables.

“As these services will be under close observation, not only by the railways but also by the passengers, it will be essential to maintain high levels of service and protocol. Procedures will have to be in place for high levels of patient safety,” the circular states.

The train superintendent will co–ordinate between the ill passenger and the doctor. After initial examination of the passenger, he will be moved to the designated ‘patient care sick bay’. There, the doctor will decide the seriousness of the ailment and whether the passenger should be allowed to continue with his journey or be detrained at the next station. The doctors on board and the train superintendents will have the list of hospitals close to stations en route. If the need arises, the train superintendent will stop the train at a designated station and place the passenger in the care of the station manager.

The station manager or assistant station manager will be responsible for transferring the patient from the station to the nearest medical centre or hospital. This may become necessary to save the patients’ lives as all stations – particularly the smaller ones – may not have proper healthcare facilities.

“This project is under the ‘Doctor on Long Distance Trains’ scheme. If this turns out to be successful, similar facilities will be provided on other trains. It will be of great help to passengers – particularly those who travel for treatment,” the official said.

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