Rajasthan: Drunk ambulance driver makes halts, baby dies


Police have registered a case against an ambulance driver, allegedly drunk, who took onboard his vehicle two 'friends' while transferring a woman who had delivered a weak baby. The baby had been referred to Kota from Baran, but could not be saved as the ambulace driver made three halts en route. 

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The mother of the dead baby and the anganwadi worker accompanying her and her husband had to wait out the night in an autorickshaw, after a kindly auto driver took pity on them. He also took them to the nearest bus stop, from where they boarded a bus home to conduct the last rites of the baby.

The baby boy was born at the government Kelwara Hospital on Sunday night. The baby's mother Antho Bai, a resident of Pahari village in Shahbad tehsil of Baran, her husband Meghraj Sahariya and anganwadi worker assisting them, Khedi Bai, were asked to take the newborn immediately to Baran district hospital. Although the district hospital has a wing dedicated only to newborns and their mothers, the baby showed no improvement. Late on Sunday, hospital authorities asked the parents to take the baby to Kota.

The ambulance that was ferrying them to Kota was driven allegedly by a man who was drunk. He took on board the vehicle two others, and the three allegedly made three halts while transferring the baby to Kota from Baran, a distance of over 60 km.

The ambulance driver then offloaded the baby, its parents and the anganwadi worker and made off with documents showing that the baby had been referred for treatment. The anganwadi worker managed to track him down and recover the papers. By the time all this was done, the baby's breath had become tortured.

The baby's mother, seeing she had lost her child, began to weep outside the JK Lon Hospital in Kota. An auto driver passing by saw the woman in distress and let the mother and baby sit out the night in his autorickshaw. At dawn, the driver took the mother, her dead child, the father of the baby and the anganwadi worker to a bus stop and even bought them tickets for their ride home.

Dr Alka Garg of Baran district hospital said the baby was born extremely weak and she felt the hospital was not equipped to save its life. "That is why it was necessary to refer the patient to Kota," she said. Baran district collector SP Singh said the ambulance driver had delayed treatment and put the baby's life at risk. "The police have registered a case. A departmental inquiry will also be held," he said.

Baran-based social activist Firoz Khan told media, "The problem begins with these hospitals making frequent referrals elsewhere. If a hospital equipped with a mother-and-child wing cannot provide treatment to a baby born weak, what can we say of the system?"