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Initiative to deal with medical emergencies in far-flung Andaman and Nicobar islands, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Port Blair: The Nicobar district administration has launched an initiative to train residents of a remote island in ways to tackle health emergencies. The ‘Swasthya-Doot’ project, a community based volunteer programme, was taken up after Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Great Nicobar, Nitin Shakya, was woken up by a phone call in the early hours in October last year. The caller, a government employee, told him about a medical emergency at Makachua village in remote Campbell Bay with one of the residents falling ill as his heart had stopped beating. He told Shakya that the SOS came through the police radio communication system, the only way to communicate with the villagers living in the remote village.

Makachua, 90 nautical miles from Indonesia, is a far-flung tribal island and it takes nearly 4-5 hours to reach there by a speed boat from Cambell Bay.

Similar situations in any city or town could have been handled easily with state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, But handling such a case in a remote village like Makachua was a different challenge altogether, an official said.

The Assistant Commissioner’s office swung into action and mobilized whatever little resources they had and after great difficulty the life of that person was saved, the official said.

The patient needed immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation but the villagers of Makachua were not aware of it and how to handle such cases.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a lifesaving technique that is used in emergencies such as a heart attack or near drowning, in which someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped.

“It was then I conceptualised the idea of ​​creating an army of Swasthya Doot to strengthen the healthcare facility in such a remote place here in Great Nicobar. It is a community-based volunteer training program where our health staff trains local villagers on effective handling of health emergencies like accidents, drowning, snake bite, fever, measles, burn injuries etc,” Shakya, who also holds an MBBS degree, told PTI.

Similar training was also given to school students, he said.

“The most difficult part of our Swasthya Doot mission was organizing a camp at Makachua village because of its location.

” We anchored our speed boat in the sea (close to shore), then blew a siren which alerted the local villagers who came in a dinghy and took us inside the village after another 30 minutes of boat ride. Those living in metro or cities will not be able to imagine how difficult it is here to execute public service with limited resources,” Shakya said.

Separate camps were set up at Campbell Bay, Afra Bay, Pulo-Ulan, Pulo-Bhabi, Pulo Patia, and Makachua area and so far more than 100 people have been trained to handle medical emergency and disaster management like Heimlich Maneuver during choking, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, evacuation during Tsunami, stormy weather, crocodile attack, snake bite, earthquakes.

“It was a much-needed training for handling any medical emergency and natural calamities on such a remote place in India. “I would like to express my gratitude to the local administration for creating an army of Swasthya Doot,” said Jagpal, a resident of Chingen area.

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