Medical care non-existent

Medical care non-existent

To be an athlete in India is akin to being a tight-rope walker without the safety net below.

Kerala pole vaulter Shani Shaji found that out the hard way on the second day of the Junior Federation Cup athletics meet at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday.

Shani, attempting her first jump, couldn’t control the pole and came crashing down, landing in the box. She twisted her ankle badly and cried out for help. Sadly, the medical facilities were appalling. Announcements were made for ambulance and first-aid to rush to the spot. But there was no ambulance to roll in. There was no doctor. There was no stretcher either.

A first-aid demonstrator, with very basic medicines, did whatever he could before Shani was carried outside the venue and taken to Mallya hospital in a car. She was diagnosed to have suffered an ankle fracture, putting her out of action for some time.

The Karnataka Amateur Athletics Association came under immediate fire for ignoring the basic needs at a meet of this stature. KAAA secretary Chandrasekhar Rai admitted the lapse on their part.

“We should have had the ambulance, it is a mistake on our part, we will make sure there is one tomorrow,” he said. “We had one yesterday and I was under the impression that it was in place today too,” he added.

The ambulance that was stationed at the stadium on Tuesday, in fact, was brought in by the footballing authorities for the Federation Cup match between Bengaluru FC and Aizwal FC. St John Ambulance, the agency that was roped in to provide first-aid by KAAA, said they didn’t receive any request for an ambulance, which is provided free of cost.

C K Valson, the Athletics Federation of India secretary, expressed surprise at the lack of medical facilities. “They should have had proper facilities in place, including an ambulance,” he said, stressing that the final day’s events should not kick off without an ambulance in place.

Rai, meanwhile, said the KAAA will bear the medical expenses of Shani but that is hardly a comforting factor for those who give their all on the field of play.

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