‘I will never travel by train, again’

Said the 28-year-old Shraddha Nagaonkar to her husband who survived the mishap on Friday. While all of us know that there have been severe casualties at the Elphinstone- Parel Bridge incident on September 29, what came out as an aftermath has been the psychological impressions that the sight has created among those who have survived the stroke of bad luck

A day after the shocking Elphinstone-Parel Bridge mischance, a lot of people who have survived the incident have approached the psychiatric department in an acute state of shock. Psychiatrists across the city say that this is the aftermath of any such incident of mass casualty.

“This condition is called acute stress reaction. It is the complete sense of stress and anxiety that those who have seen the event encounter. Timely intervention by experts is very important,” said Dr Sagar Karia, secretary of Bombay Psychiatric Association as well as consulting psychiatrist at Sion Hospital.

“At around 11am, Shraddha (Nagaonkar) called me from her phone asking me to come to the station. She has got hurt in her right hand but majorly, it was the shock that is acting as a villain at the moment. We have not been told about discharge as yet but she is much better than yesterday. I only wish I had dropped her to station yesterday,” said her husband, Vinay.

The Nagaonkar’s stay at Worli while Shraddha works at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. “She is currently saying that she will not travel by train anymore.”

This is not only Nagaonkar’s complaint but a lot of survivor’s have been approaching the psychiatry department at the hospital to come out of the ‘shocking incident’ encountered by them. Doctors from the department at KEM hospital said, “We have been getting a lot of patients since yesterday who are getting nightmares about the incident. We are treating them currently.”

Dr Parul Tank, seconded Dr Karia by saying that acute stress reaction, if not treated could lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or even depression, in some cases. “Acute stress reaction goes on for maximum 30 days; if it persists it could lead to PTSD.  The symptoms of acute stress reaction include anxiety, avoidance (which could be the case of Shradhha) or panic attacks etc. All in all, it’s important to treat the symptoms on time,” said Dr Parul Tank, Consultant Psychiatrist at Asian Heart, Mumbai and Fortis Hospital who is also the head of the psychiatry department at Rajawadi Hospital.

The hospital has, however, made timely provisions from every department to get the best of their capacity. All departments have, put in equal efforts for the benefits of the patients.

Dr Pravin Shinde, assistant professor, general surgery who was posted for the emergency service on Friday said the standard protocol for managing such crisis was followed. “It was an excellent team work. Doctors, nurses, ward boys everyone worked together to ensure the causalities get the right medical attention. Till 4 pm, we all were busy stabilising the victims of Mumbai stampede and sending them to wards. Mostly it was blunt injuries but all of them were in state of shock,” said Shinde. It was Dr Shinde’s birthday on September 30 yet he waited at the hospital for more than 24 hours. “My birthday was celebrated at 12 am by treating patients. But however, they were the priority.”

Agreeing to him Dr Nitin Dange, neurosurgeon who was also present at the hospital described it as shocking and unbelievable, unfortunate.

“I am still unable to get over the unfortunate sight at KEM Hospital where the casualties were brought in. It was a team work at the hospital. In a triage situation like these the mode and nature of injury is very imp to segregate ,sort ,assess and allot patients, as they need immediate  attention and  taking care of ABCDs of emergency medicine.  We at such situation promptly need to take fastest decision and isolate patients as per requirement of resuscitation which was done very aptly by ESR and EMS and rest doctors in casualty,” said Dr Dange.

Elphinstone bridge stampede has claimed 23 lives as of now with 32 still admitted at the hospital and two have taken discharged against doctor’s medical advice.

 5 common complaints of people who have seen the event (Source: Dr Sagar Karia)

  1. Repeated thoughts of events or the sight seen.
  2. Decreased sleep or severe nightmares.
  3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  4. Panic attacks.
  5. Depression or in some cases, substance abuse as a means to escape from the incident.

Tips to deal with acute stress reaction (Source: Dr Parul Tank)

  1. Let’s first deal with the psychological trauma by having a supportive therapy. This will be important to deal with the emotions of the person who has seen the misadventure.
  2. The survivors of the incident will have to be given a chance to share what they witnessed. A support group of sorts will be of great help.
  3. The person must share everything that they have witnessed.
  4.  If the condition persists, EMDR, a specific procedure is important.
  5. If none of this works, seeking medication is a must