Critical Odisha Infant Dies After Ambulance Driver Stops for 'Quick' Lunch, Returns 90 Minutes Later

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An infant died in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district on Monday due to lack of timely medical attention as the driver of the ambulance allegedly took a 90 minutes lunch break on their way to the hospital.

The couple, Niranjan Behera and Geeta Behera, had on Sunday admitted their baby to PRM Medical College Hospital in Baripada town with diarrhoea-like symptoms, but was referred to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack as the infant’s condition worsened, the Hindustan Times reported.

On their way to Cuttack, they were accompanied by a pharmacist in the ambulance. Soon after they left Baripada, the driver and the pharmacist stopped by for a “quick” lunch break at a roadside dhaba.

After anxiously waiting for an hour in the ambulance, the father went to hurry the duo, considering the condition of his child. But, he was sent back with the assurance that both the driver and the pharmacist were aware of how serious the condition of the child was.

However, as they wrapped up lunch and headed for Cuttack, the toddler’s health deteriorated. He collapsed at Krishanachandrapur area, which is 10 km from Baripada, and was admitted to the Krishanachandrapur community health centre, where he was pronounced dead on arrival by doctors.

“They (the driver and the pharmacist) came after approximately 90 minutes and by then it was all over. Had they not taken a long lunch-break my nephew would have been alive now,” the publication quoted Paramanand Behera, maternal uncle baby.

As the baby was declared dead, the infuriated parents attacked the pharmacist and the driver and lodged a complaint against them at the police outpost of Krishanachandrapur.

However, the police officials differed from the statement of the parents and claimed that there was no delay due to a lunch break. “They had gone for lunch for just 20 minutes,” Sayan Bose, district coordinator of Ziqitza Healthcare Limited that operates the fleet of 108 ambulance, told HT.