Published on April 27, 2021

AHMEDABAD: Vinod Parmar, a resident of Sola, called the EMRI 108 emergency service on Friday morning. “It was a non-Covid call as my grandmother had started developing age-related complications. We followed-up three or four times, and then gave up,” he recounts.

“She was taken to a nearby hospital but could not be saved. Her last rites were performed on Saturday evening. When we were back from the cremation, a 108 executive called asking us whether they could pick her up. We had to tell him she had departed for her destination already,” says Parmar.

With the explosion in Covid cases, the emergency service is under stress not felt in its 14-year run. “We are fielding more than 50,000 calls a day, about one call every two seconds. Even if one discounts the follow-up calls, the volume has increased manyfold in the past 20 days. Despite expanding our fleet thrice in the past fortnight, response time has increased,” said a senior official.

Similarly, a family in Ghodasar waited for more than 30 hours to get admission to a hospital but eventually the Covid patient succumbed to complications. “We tried to get admission at private and government hospitals, get oxygen and medicines at home, but could not save my father,” said Kantilal Makwana.

The acute shortage of oxygen also puts citizens in distress. Harshad Patel, a social worker from Amraiwadi, said that their neighbour, Maya Parmar, 33, a resident of Gandhinagar, succumbed to Covid complications as the family could not arrange for oxygen. “She had come to her parents’ home for the last week.

About four days ago, she tested positive. As the family could not get her admitted to a hospital, they started treatment at home. They arranged for one oxygen cylinder, but could not find a replacement. She succumbed on Sunday,” said Patel.

Sudha Patel, 63, a resident of Dholka, was among the patients in queue outside Civil Hospital on Monday. Hitesh, her son, said they had to come to the hospital as they could not get oxygen despite their best efforts. “Her oxygen level has dipped to 70%-75% and she needs hospitalization. As we could not get a bed at four hospitals, this is our last hope,” he said.

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