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PESHAWAR: The huge crowd that swarmed the emergency department of Lady Reading Hospital minutes after the shifting of the wounded persons from the site of suicide attack on ANP’s election meeting last night not only damaged the infrastructure but also hampered the smooth treatment of the injured persons.

“Lives of at least four people could have been saved, had the people not entered the emergency department last night. We kept appealing to the people to vacate the vicinity so that the life-saving procedures could be carried out but all our requests fell on deaf ears and the mob continued to break door, glasses and medical appliances,” Dr Khalid Masud, the director of LRH, told Dawn.

The emergency department of LRH is the only public sector department in the country that has been recognised by the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan for specialised training of doctors in trauma and emergency treatment. The 167-bed department has the services of 450 staffers including eight assistant professors dealing with as many specialties. It provided treatment to more than 30,000 people, who got injured in bomb and suicide attacks in the province and the erstwhile tribal areas.

Given the standard of the treatment services, the hospital sent 53 patients home and retained only nine of the total 62 injured due to the prompt care by professional staff but protest by people damaged the infrastructure.

Eyewitnesses said that about 1,000 people came in droves and tore the uniform of the security and medical staff despite appeals to them to leave the place.

“We requested them to get aside from the gate to enable us to ensure smooth treatment of injured but nobody listened to us. We were not able to retrieve the bodies and hand them over to the relatives,” said Dr Khalid. He said that later they called army to be able to hand over bodies to the people.

He said that the staffers ran for their safety and locked themselves in rooms to avoid protesters unless the situation became normal after army’s arrival. “Not only the on-duty people swiftly provided investigative and treatment services to the injured but the doctors, nurses and paramedics rushed to the hospital from hostels and homes to supplement the efforts,” said Dr Khalid.

Senior consultants including Prof Aamir Bilal, Prof Waqar Alam Jan and others remained at the emergency department till morning to supervise the efforts. “Our staffers acted very professionally and tried their level best to save lives of the injured despite looming threats from agitators,” said Dr Khalid. He said that deputy commissioner and police officers remained on the spot to ensure smooth care of patients.

He said that policemen, who remained alert on the spot, faced embarrassment as people tore their uniforms and hurled abuses at them. The staff at the hospital remained on high alert till the funeral ceremony of Haroom Bilour took place.

The hospital administration is busy in carrying out repair work at the emergency department as well as making up for the broken and lost equipment.

“It is our humble appeal to people to stay away from the hospital so that we provide better services to the people. In emergency department, we carry out life-saving procedures that require utmost concentration. The presence of people hinders treatment of patients,” said Dr Khalid.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2018