In two separate incidents, the families of two journalists who died today have alleged that delays in receiving ambulance services led to both the deaths. Amrit Dubey died in Lucknow, while Pandurang Raikar died in Pune.
Dubey, 48, was PTI’s special correspondent in Lucknow. He had reportedly been unwell for the last two days and was running a temperature. His friend, Rajiv Tiwari, an independent journalist, told Newslaundry that Dubey had complained of bleeding from his nose and mouth this morning. He lost consciousness soon after.
At 6 am, Dubey’s family, comprising his elderly parents and sister, called 102, the number for the state-run emergency ambulance service. The ambulance arrived two hours later at 8 am and, after being apprised of Dubey's history of having a fever, refused to take the patient. Dubey's family was told to call on 108, a helpline number, to reach ambulances that are specially tasked with dealing with Covid patients in Uttar Pradesh.
Between 8 am and 10 am, Dubey’s family made frantic calls to 108 but received no response. They approached Lucknow’s district magistrate, Abhishek Prakash, who finally intervened and an ambulance reached Amrit Dubey’s house at 10 am. Dubey was taken to the Lok Bandhu hospital where doctors declared him dead.
"This is nothing but gross negligence," said Tiwari, who also confirmed that Dubey's test for Covid returned negative.
An association of journalists, the Uttar Pradesh Rajya Mukhyalya Manyata Praapt Samvaddata Samiti, has demanded that the government provide compensation of Rs 30 lakh to the families of deceased journalists. It also urged the government to help the dependents of journalists to find jobs.
In Pune, a delay in cardiac ambulance
Pandurang Raikar, 42, was a Pune-based television journalist. His sister told ANI that a delay in getting a cardiac ambulance to shift him to a hospital resulted in his death.
Raikar initially tested negative for Covid on August 27. On August 30, an antigen test in his hometown of Ahmednagar confirmed that he had tested positive for Covid. Raikar was reportedly refused treatment at a hospital in Ahmednagar since his family was unwilling to pay an advance amount of Rs 40,000.
When Rahul Dwivedi, the district magistrate of Ahmednagar, intervened on Raikar's behalf, the private hospital admitted him two hours later. By then, his condition began to deteriorate so his family decided to take him to Pune.
At 8.30 pm on September 1, Raikar was admitted to Pune's Jumbo Covid Care hospital where he was shifted to the ICU. This hospital was , with a capacity of 1,600 beds. When his condition worsened, the family decided to move him to a private hospital.
Raikar's colleague, Ashwini Satav, that the private hospital was only seven minutes away. They needed a cardiac ambulance, which is equipped with a ventilator, to move him.
"We arranged for an ambulance but they came with faulty ventilator and another without doctor. This all happened until 2 am today. So we decided to shift him in the morning as the doctor here was saying that we cannot shift the patient in a critical condition," Satav told the New Indian Express.
At 4 am, Raikar's oxygen levels dropped to 50-55, Satav said. "We arranged for another ambulance and we were told that it will be available at 6.30 am but in the meantime, we reached here, we got to know that Pandurang has died."
These incidents follow the death of India Today's Lucknow correspondent on September 1.
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