Marine Ambulance and effective communication system still a far cry for fishers

By Sreekesh

Back home, Patrick Fernandez is yet to recover from the trauma that he has undergone. It was a mild stroke suffered while fishing in the deep ocean that has left this flood hero confined to the bed.


It is just not a single Patrick who had to face such a health problem out in the sea but many fishermen who dare the waves and fish in the deeps have had similar health related issues. And this is where the relevance of a Marine Ambulance and an effective communication system gains significance.


Talking to kadapuram.com at his home in Thumpa near Thiruvananthapuram, Patrick while sharing his bitter experience in mid sea, said that marine ambulance and a good communication system would have helped him a lot. Patrick who showed uneasiness at about 6 pm was only admitted to the hospital around 12 midnight.


Recalling the hours that he went through in the sea, Patrick said “I felt much uneasiness and my brother told me that we could go back. However, I insisted that there was nothing to worry and everything would be fine. But a few minutes later I started to vomit and it was really painful.”


Patrick’s brother Basil, who also present, said “once Patrick started to vomit and his condition became severe, we called the Marine Enforcement. Meanwhile, we tried to call others in tye shore. But as the mobile range was not steady, it was hard to get back to anyone in the shore. At last I got Patrick’s son in his mobile. The attempt to reach other boats nearby also failed as their mobile was not reachable.”


“By this time, the enforcement wing also reached us. But as their boat was much larger than our vessel, it was difficult for them to come near. Moreover, Patrick could not be shifted to their boat. Patrick’s son and others had by that time reached us and he was taken to the shore,” Basil said.


Patrick and basil said that anything could have happened in the long hours that they were in the sea. “If any health related issues happens to any of the fishermen out in the sea, hardly any help reaches them. In Patrick’s case, if we had a good communication system, he could have been brought to the shore early. The same is with marine ambulance, which would help in providing the basic care to the fishermen who are in distress” Basil said.


Patrick and Basil is a reflection of an entire community that has been longing to have better communication devices and also better health facilities when at sea. Though the government has been envisaging many programmes for bettering the facilities, they are yet to come up with a foolproof mechanism.

With respect to bettering communication facilities, the government has given NAVIC system to the fishermen who venture deep into the sea. With NAVIC, the fishermen can only get warnings. The government is learned to be heading towards a better communicating system wherein the fishermen could communicate with the shore.


The fishermen are quite apprehensive of when the government would be providing such facilities. Moreover, they say that the government takes note of the necessity of having such facilities only when some untoward incidents happen.


With respect to the long pending demand of a marine ambulance, the left government has taken the intuitive in building the three marine ambulances. The ambulances are being built at the Cochin Shipyard and are expected to be ready by 2020. The marine ambulance will have a capacity to accommodate two patients and seven crew members. The ambulance will have medical beds, nursing rooms, refrigerator, mortuary and other facilities.


It is high time that the government takes initiative at the earliest rather than wait for some untoward things to happen. Most of the times political leadership wakes up after an incident happened. And after quite a time, all these are forgotten and the fishermen are left to their own fate, a Mathew, a fisherman from Veli said.


“We often hear promises from the leadership. The government has at least started to take some initiative in providing better communicating facility and also has kick-started the project marine ambulance,” he said.

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