Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Matter of Life and Death

Not only is medical care dismal in hospitals, even the emergency care is pathetic

Valley Lacks Critical Care Ambulances

Srinagar: Timely medical help during emergencies can make a
difference between life and death. Ambulances equipped with
life-saving facilities, therefore, assume key role in saving lives.
Despite the high incidence of casualties in the valley, there is an
acute dearth of critical care ambulances. Those available lack
necessary facilities and are just used for carrying the patients.
Director Health Services Kashmir, Muhammad Amin Wani told Rising
Kashmir that though ambulances with basic facilities are available in
every primary health centre, sub-district and district hospital, the
critical care ambulances are not available. “We have sent the proposal
to the government for approval of a critical care ambulance worth 35
lakhs rupees to every district,” he said.

Wani says the valley is short of nearly 30 ambulances. “Health
department cannot provide ambulances at every place,” he added.
Meanwhile, experts believe the ambulances provided by health
department are simply “carrier vehicles”.

‘The number of ambulances provided by health department is not
sufficient to cater to the needs. Even during cross-firing, blasts or
encounters, the injured are generally ferried in police or civilian
cars in the absence of proper ambulance service,” they said.
Besides, there is also lack of proper emergency service in the state
unlike most other states.

Director Health says the department is in talks with some private
agencies to provide 24-hour ambulance services.

“We will establish a control room soon in Srinagar, first as a pilot
project. If private sector cooperation will not mature we will
introduce a hotline number for ambulances at government level,” said

To filter fake calls, he added, a software package will be used.
In 12 states of India- Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tamil
Nadu, Rajasthan, Goa, Assam, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya,
Punjab- emergency ambulance services are just a call away. Call 108, a
hotline number, an ambulance will arrive at your door step in these

These emergency ambulances run by GVK¬-Emergency Management and
Research Institute in association with the state governments are
accompanied by trained Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) responsible
for pre-hospital care while transporting the patient to a hospital for
stabilization. If required, the technician can contact the in-house
Emergency Response Care Physician (ERCP) who is a qualified medical
practitioner available 24/7 to support the EMT as and when required
through cell phone.

Ghulam Muhammad from Wagoora, accompanying a patient at SMHS hospital,
paid Rs 650 for ambulance from sub-district hospital Sopore to SMHS.
“There is no first-aid, no trained paramedic in the ambulances.
Patients are left unattended throughout the journey. Many patients
lose their lives on way to hospital due to lack of transport or
immediate treatment,” Ghulam Muhammad told Rising Kashmir.
Ambulances should ideally have facilities including proper couch for
patients, splints for immobilization of fractures, first-aid kits,
emergency care equipment and supplies like airway care, oxygen
cylinders, masks, blood transfusion facilities, ECG machine, external
cardiac compression, prevention and treatment of shock, life saving
drugs and injections, IV fluids, drip sets, blood pints and blood
transfusion sets.

Besides this, refrigeration facility, communication facility,
emergency childbirth and transportation of newly born infants are
necessary for an ambulance. For immediate treatment of serious
patients a highly trained paramedic staff should also be onboard.

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