Court directs railways to consider emergency medical centres at stations

The Bombay high court has directed the railways to consider setting up emergency medical centres at all local train stations (on both the Central and Western lines) which had seen over 100 accidents last year.

The court's remarks came on a PIL by activist Sameer Zaveri, whose counsel J P Cama said that a "trauma care centre" at Dadar station, set up as a pilot project following an April 2011 HC directive, had helped save many lives.

The facility, Cama added, needed to be extended to other stations as well and the railways owed it to the public.

The judges - Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta - asked the railways' lawyers why the Dadar model could not be replicated elsewhere, to which Central Railway advocate A N Samant replied that a policy decision would need to be taken. He sought to clarify that there was no trauma centre at Dadar, but an emergency medical centre.

Advocate for Western Railway, Suresh Kumar, said that as a matter of policy, where the distance of an accident spot was over 5 km from a station, the victim had to be taken to the nearest private hospital and shifted to a government hospital on stabilisation of his condition.

"We have an arrangement with private hospitals on monthly contract; the bill is paid by the railways. These accidents are so severe that it is not possible to give treatment immediately and therefore they have to be shifted to a hospital."

Cama said there was need for trauma care at stations and there had to be a facility where a detached limb could be wrapped and sent for reattachment.

However, he added, a time lapse could prove fatal.

Justice Shah agreeing with him said, in Mumbai, sometimes it took 30 minutes to travel a 1.5-km stretch.

Kumar told the court that in cases where there was a government hospital within a radius of 500 metres of the railway station, an accident victim was taken there. However, in the absence of a government hospital, the railways had tied up with certain private hospitals where victims were taken, he added.

Cama added that victims, in the majority of cases, were taken to hospital an hour after the accident.

He added that the victim would be lying on the stretcher as the police completed their formalities, but the victim by then must have lost blood.

Agreeing with the petitioner's contention, the court said, prima facie a clear case had been made out for establishment of similar medical centres at other suburban railway stations.

The court observed that the Central and Western railways needed to consider setting up of such centres at stations like CST, Kurla, Thane, Kalyan, Bandra and so on.

The railways have, meanwhile, been directed by the court to file a report by 16 April.