Jun 27, 2015

Karachi has lost its1200 people due to severe heatstroke in a week & failure of Sind Govt. for not implementing Disaster Recovery Plan at provincial level to meet such crisis!

Karachi a mega city of 30 million people affected by irremediable calamity – a severe heat waves that killed 1200 people in a week & still the uproar echoing that atmospheric condition does not seem normal but a consistent threat.

The news however airing in media through metro-logical department that one more time the heatwave will target Karachi though the heat temperature has come down little but not so distinctive to believe that the dragon of heat waves has left the city.

Nevertheless it’s an obvious signal for the people living in Karachi to take precautionary measures beforehand to avoid of sunstroke

Electronic and print media should play its due role and must do regular program on ad hoc basis to apprise the people giving an understanding and showing illustrative physical training that how to cope over the crisis and someone can keep away from the ruthless impact of heatstroke.

The karachiites experienced the heavy strokes last week - looking Sind Govt. to notify the concerned govt. hospitals/ clinics  & install emergency cell across the board in Karachi to handle such disaster if falls again

Ensure the presence of all requisites & facilities required to treat heatstroke & sunstroke patients - conduct essential medical training to attend such victims & make mandatory arrangements on war foot basis needed for suspected patients of heat waves. 

For God forbid if it repeats we are not certain how more death the karachiites will witness, said a Govt. hospital doctor.

Due to sizzling heat waves the Karachi kept their inhabitants into furnace where the mercury overwhelmingly scrolled between 45 to 47 degrees Celsius that devoured 1200 lives. The pitiless weather baked the whole city and spared no one whoever came under its clutch.

The causes of fatalities were the direct sunstroke following dehydration, headache, nausea, vomiting & heart attack where patients could not survive and expired. There were no epidemic eruption in the city but an unbearable & unbeatable heat waves that plagued the Karachiies.

It’s a heat injuries where people get infected with heat stroke or sunstroke that kills and can cause damage to brain and other internal organs - Heat stroke generally occurs as a progression from milder heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat syncope (fainting) and heat exhaustion but it can strike even if you don’t have previous signs of heat injury.

Heat stroke results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures - usually in combination with dehydration which leads to failure of the body's temperature control system. 

The medical definition of heatstroke is a core body temperature greater than 105 degrees Fahrenheit with complications involving the central nervous system that occur after exposure to high temperatures - Other common symptoms includes nausea, seizures, confusion, disorientation, and sometimes loss of consciousness or coma. However the fatality increased due to the following reasons

a)    Lack of basic facility at govt. hospitals in Karachi in its four districts – No water - No ceiling fan – Out of order lavatories – A darkened room or medical wards- Filthy and stinky & unhygienic hospitals environment with disgustingly dirty floor.   

b)    Insufficient number of medical staff and paramedical forces to curb & manage the influx of heatstroke patients in the hospitals

c)    Non availability of ambulance to take the suspected patients of heatstroke to the nearest hospitals

d)    Not only govt. hospitals had no ambulance but the private ambulance service providers also seen excusing when the suspected patients either arrived late in hospital or expired on the way to the hospital

e)    No bedding facility - patients lied-down at the floor waiting for crusader to treat them

f)     Not constituting any emergency cell/ units or special arrangement to respond the tragedy i.e. the increased number of heatstroke patients brought to the hospitals

g)    No mass disaster recovery & business continuity plan with strategic policies in place to control & getting rid of the crisis in the city.

h)    Lack of medicines & dysfunctional of oxygen cylinders & inactive medical equipment

i)      Inadequate Air-conditioning apparatus that were the important intake for sunstroke patients

j)      Dysfunctional air-condition plants with no maintenance schedule rather out of order since long

k)    Prolong power breakdown with no back-up support to run or revive the hospital business resulting patients left remained unattended and died

l)      Failure in provision of desired cooling temperature being first and foremost important segment for such victims & suspected patients of heatstroke whose survival depends only on appropriate cooling temperature to relief the patients from the heat waves but hospitals had no cooling facility at all

m)  Untrained medical doctors and nurses to understand and handle such victims, its symptoms and treatment - delay in giving medical help caused fatal

n)    Lacking in initiating first aid to cool it to 101 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit the staff looked busy in searching of thermometers

o)    Out of order ceiling fan - directing to the patient and wetting skin with water from a sponge - a basic criteria to attend heatstroke patient and

p)    Applying ice packs to the patient's armpits, groin, neck, and back because these areas becomes rich with blood vessels close to the skin - cooling them might reduce body temperature

q)    But there were no ice packs in the hospitals or cold water to shower the patients - because almost toilets had no water in its tap but inundated with sewerage water due to chocked sewerage lines

A general phenomena to immerse the patient in a shower or tub of cold water, or an ice bath but hospital had no such facility to attend heatstroke patients resulting we lost outnumbered human lives in Karachi

Truly, people went through untold mental agonies – a tale of horror for Karachiites who lost their kith and kin owing to numerous reasons - those who lost their relative says

a)    We could not find grave to bury our family or place to burial the corpse

b)    When approached to graveyard administrator or cemetery - the grave digger we could not find

c)    They told us bring your laborer and a pickax to dig up the grave – go around and check the place - so do your own arrangement as we are not free due to mass killing by heat waves in the town, said the grave digger, mentioned aggrieved father who lost his daughter in heatstroke.- In one day alone 41 dead bodies had been buried in Shaki Hasan grave yard he further said. 

d)    There were no place in cemetery - around the city we roamed & checked other burial site too but did not find place - however we were given a new date by the grave-digger to come after two days as there were no ready-made grave available

e)    When we approached the morgue Edhi center in Shorab-goath to store the dead body we were told not having space inside the cold storage - we came back with the corpse and arranged ice slab to intact the body, said a sobbing son who lost his father while he was coming back from the job, died due to heatstroke.   

f)     The hospital administration returned the body of my uncle as there were no space in hospital mortuary and I took the body to another morgue - however I searched for space to bury my uncle but could not find burial space in the town or the precinct where we live – lastly we got the place out of Karachi in Hub River Road graveyard where we buried our uncle, said a distressed nephew who lives in Gulshan e Iqbal  ..

g)    When we went inside the morgue we saw how the bodies had been stacked on top of one another – really there were no space in the mortuary because of massive killing due to heat waves in Karachi – all the mortuary in the city had no space to accommodate dead bodies  

h)    Most of the corpses had been kept outside the mortuary had stinky & smelly environment if you pass close to the mortuary. Yesterday I came to know that Edhi had buried multiple bodies in one grave because of space, time & unclaimed factor. Edhi resources also confirmed that due to not having space in mortuary temporarily they buried 30 bodies hoping to get claimant to handover the bodies to its owner.

i)      When we got a place in cemetery but we could not find any funeral van or bus to take bodies to graveyard then we hired a public bus to carry the mourner to perform funeral.and for carrying the dead body one of my friend arranged high roof where we kept the body in our lap and moved for cemetery as ambulance was not available.

Among other issues electric power failure were the main reason that increased the death toll as immediate cooling temperature and cold water accessibility could not attain that’s made the situation worse to worst in Karachi.

However govt. needs to enforce Disaster Recovery (DR) plan in practicality so that ability of the organization or concerned department may respond to a disaster or an interruption in services by implementing a disaster recovery plan to stabilize and restore the organization's critical functions.