'108 ambulance for Mumbai Marathon lacked basic supplies'

Updated: Jan 22, 2020, 07:40 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

Doctor says she had to make do with half the medical stock available on the ambulance to stabilise a runner after he collapsed on Sunday

Dr Bina Apotikar at her clinic in Worli. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Dr Bina Apotikar at her clinic in Worli. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Mumbai has always has a steady supply of good samaritans and one of the runners in the marathon, who collapsed due to dehydration, was lucky to bump into one. But, Dr Bina Apotikar, who jumped to his help, struggled to stabilise him as the 108 ambulance deployed for the 2020 race was allegedly short on supplies.

Around 7.30 am on Sunday, a 37-year-old runner, who had participated in the half marathon, collapsed near Fashion Street, just 500 metres away from the finishing line. Dr Apotikar, 53, had come to cheer her two patients who participated in the run when she noticed him fall down. "I rushed to help him as did a couple other passersby. His pulse was quite low and he was dehydrated," she said.

Meanwhile, Dr Mansi Deshmukh, a particpant who stopped to help them, called the 108 ambulance. She also tried the Asian Heart Institute (AHI) but they asked her to bring the runner to their tent in Azad Maidan, Dr Deshmukh told mid-day.

Dr Apotikar, an anaesthesiologist and fitness consultant, said, "He was not in a condition to be moved. The 108 ambulance came 10 minutes later. But it was short on supplies and the doctor in the ambulance seemed clueless," she added. The 108 ambulance is a part of the state's medical emergency service.

'Poor stock of meds'
She alleged that most of the items, including the equipment needed to start an IV line, needed to stabilise the runner were not available.

"The ambulance didn't have the 5ml or 10 ml needle or the spirit needed before injecting and I had to use a smaller needle. They didn't even have the tape to keep the needle in place and I had to hold it to keep it steady. They had only one bag of ringer lactate (solution used to replace fluids and electrolytes)," she said. There were no shops or
chemists around, but fortunately other runners offered water to the patient, said Dr Apotikar.

Nearly an hour later the runner started felling better, said the doctor, adding, "When I first saw him, he cried out in pain since he had muscle spasms caused due to dehydration. But he cooperated and drank a lot of water. His pulse came up and his condition stabilised".

'Timing is crucial'
And the ambulance from Asian Heart arrived only at 9.20 am and he was given another bag of ringer lactate, she said. Later, the Asian Heart ambulance shifted him to the recovery tent.

She said the incident, however, left a mark on her and she put up a post about her experience on social media. A sports enthusiast herself, Dr Apotikar has been encouraging her patients to participate in marathons. But she isn't so sure anymore. "The ambulance deals with patients of trauma and they need to be well stocked at all times. There has to be a protocol. Timing is crucial in such cases and the little things can determine the chances of survival," she said.

Organisers refute allegations
The marathon organisers — Tata Mumbai Marathon, Procam International & Asian Heart Institute — on Tuesday said no such incident was reported to them. "We spoke to the runner who told us he was severely cramped and had to sit down, and was later helped by fellow runners and good samaritans," they said, adding that he later received further treatment at the medical camp at Azad Maidan and is now hale and hearty.

Dnyaneshwar Shelke, CEO of Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services, has refuted the allegations. "The ambulances are thoroughly checked and stocked once every 15 days. There was no shortage. On Sunday, the ambulance had been deployed and two individuals there requested for a few things including IV saline and some bandaging material. It was given to them but the 108 ambulance didn't carry the patient," he said.

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