The telemedicine facility being set up at the Sabarimala pilgrimage center, with technical assistance from JIPMER, Puducherry, and ISRO, to provide specialist medical consultation round the clock to pilgrims who might require emergency care, is expected to become operational during the current pilgrimage season beginning November 17.
The project is promoted by the Union Health Ministry and ISRO as part of efforts to utilize space technology in governance and development. JIPMER, which is the regional resource center for telemedicine for South India, will be the nodal center to provide remote medical assistance while Kozhikode Government Medical College has also been roped in as an additional centre for remote consultation.
The telemedicine node at Sabarimala is currently commissioned by ISRO downhill, at the new hospital building at Pampa, the starting point of the climb to the Sannidhanam.
The trial run has been completed and patient data transfer/receiving as well as video conferencing with the remote centers at Kozhikode MCH and JIPMER has been found to be fully operational, officials said.
“Our focus will be on ensuring that pilgrims who require emergency medical assistance — cardiac arrest or a heart attack — are given appropriate medical care within the golden hour and stabilized, before they are shifted to the nearest medical facility (Pampa hospital/ Cardiology centers at Neelimala or Appachimedu / Sannidhanam hospital).
The JIPMER team had suggested that emergency lifesaving measures and medicines be provided and kept ready at a distance of 500 m to 1 km on the entire 4 km trek.
We have thus decided to set up 23 Emergency Medical Centers (EMCs) from Pampa to Sabarimala and from Erumeli to Pampa.
We will locate 15 EMCs on the traditional path, between Neelimala and Marakkoottam, where the majority of casualties are reported to have occurred; five EMCs along Swamy Ayyappan Road and three between Karimala and Pampa,” State Nodal officer for the Telemedicine project G. Sunilkumar told The Hindu .
The EMCs will be set up in makeshift tents that can accommodate six beds. The Devaswom Board has been asked to purchase emergency resuscitation kits for all EMCs, which will contain 42 items, including medicines, dressing/suture sets, stretchers as well as portable defibrillator and ECG machine, oxygen cylinder, ambu bag, etc.
The Health Department will request the Director of Medical Education to post house surgeons undergoing Community Medicine training to be posted to the EMCs.
The department has also written to the Tamil Nadu government seeking the assistance of Ayyappa Seva Sangham volunteers at the EMCs. The volunteers will be trained in basic life support and cardiac resuscitation.
The BSNL network extended excellent coverage across the entire Sabarimala region and hence the volunteers/paramedics at EMCs can communicate the condition of a patient or seek consultation over Smartphones with the nearest medical facility at Sabarimala or even directly with the remote tele-consultation centres at Kozhikode MCH or JIPMER.
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