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Emergency declared in Pakistani hospitals as war clouds loom

 ISLAMABAD, December 29 (Internews): The military authorities in Pakistan
 on Saturday placed all public hospitals in the country on alert in the
 wake of continuing Indian military build-up on the borders and rising
 military tensions between the two countries.
 An official directive to this effect has been dispatched to the public
 hospitals asking their administrations to remain prepared for any
 eventuality in case hostilities break out between India and Pakistan.
 It stressed on keeping adequate number of beds vacant in the hospitals,
 "as a situation may arise when casualties will have to be evacuated to
 these hospitals." The doctors at public hospitals in Islamabad and Rawalpindi said several hundred beds have been reserved to meet such an eventuality.
 Military sources said it was important to take this step because in
 normal days these hospitals are so over-crowded that it becomes
 difficult for them to deal with any emergency.
 Bed utility in most Pakistani hospitals is urban areas is much higher
 than the international standards of 80 per cent utilisation and in
 certain wards it is as high as 200 per cent.
 Military officials said in case of hostilities 25 per cent of the bed
 strength of public hospitals would automatically be put at the disposal
 of the armed forces for victims of war.
 Officials denied asking the hospital authorities to get the beds vacated
 rather they said that they have only been advised not to admit cold
 cases that could be deferred for sometime.
 The sources disclosed that the hospital authorities have been directed
 to review their disaster management plans according to the situation and
 be prepared to handle emergency situation on a short notice.
 The arrangements are not only limited to the twin cities but hospitals
 across the country have been put on alert, sources said.
 All the public hospitals in Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been directed
 to make adequate arrangements to attend to almost 200 casualties a day.
 Emergency kits comprising fluids and dressings have been prepared and
 other allied arrangements finalised.
 The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) has declared a state
 of emergency and activated its disaster management plan by stocking
 first aid emergency kits, initially for 1,000 patients. The PIMS administration has also alerted all the casualty medical
 officers, in-charge of blood bank and different wards, doctors,
 pharmacists and paramedics.
 Surgery IV and Medical V have been reserved exclusively to house
 emergency patients in case of any eventuality. The staff members on
 leave have been recalled and all leaves cancelled.
 The most prestigious Pakistani medical complex will on Monday submit a
 readiness report for President Pervez Musharraf and Health Minister
 Abdul Kasi.
 The PIMS had recently conducted a mock drill before the US attack in
 Afghanistan to ascertain the capabilities of its disaster management
 plan. -Internews


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