With at least 2,598 people having tested positive for swine flu in the city this year and over 43 deaths taking place, the lack of safety measures at tertiary care hospitals (which provide specialised treatment and specialists) is a huge cause for concern.

A report in this newspaper stated that ambulance drivers have been ferrying H1N1-positive patients between the Kasturba, Sion, Nair and KEM hospitals, but nothing has been done to ensure that they do not catch the virus from the patients.

Staff members of the ambulance departments at the hospitals said that they do not get masks or influenza vaccinations to protect them from the bug. It is shocking that they are exposed to the possibility of infection as they ferry the infected to different hospitals.

Somebody has to be accountable for this huge lapse. It surely does not cost too much to keep an ambulance ready with masks and other paraphernalia so that staffers are not exposed to the virus.
There is little use ruing the spread of swine flu or then looking for a cure, if proper prevention is not in place. Ambulances cannot become a breeding ground for viruses. This shows both a lack of foresight by hospital authorities and a lack of concern for ambulance staff.

One often reads reports about paramedic staff afraid that they might contract a certain ailment because they are exposed to the virus while handling patients. One can surmise that employees who do not feel like they are looked after, are often de-motivated and frustrated. This lacuna needs immediate rectification.

On one hand, we are battling the spread of swine flu in the city, and on the other, we do nothing to prevent the exposure of those who are part of the fight against the virus. This is illogical; let’s start by equipping the ambulances with basic protective gear.