KK singer’s death highlights importance of emergency medical services

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Representative photo: Mat Napo/Unsplash


  • The KK singer died on May 30 after a concert in Kolkata. It was performing in a hot, crowded venue that had glitch AC and sparked allegations of mismanagement.
  • The time between when a person first has symptoms and when an angioplasty is performed is called the treatment time. It is clinically significant in most cases of heart attacks.
  • Medical guidelines say it should be 90 minutes or less. Longer treatment time is associated with greater heart muscle damage and death.
  • The organizers of the KK concert in Kolkata claimed that an ambulance was present at the scene, but it does not appear to have been used. Instead, KK was transported by a private vehicle.
  • The loss of KK is tragic. This should prompt a thorough assessment of emergency medical services during such occurrences in India. Perhaps the singers themselves can take the first step by emphasizing them.

Singer Krishnakumar Kunnath aka KK died on May 30, 2022, after a concert in Kolkata. He was visibly distressed during his performance, which took place in a hot, crowded venue with failing air conditioning and sparked allegations of mismanagement.

It is known that he was driven to his hotel by a private vehicle and then to a hospital where doctors pronounced him dead from cardiac arrest. The post mortem report indicated that KK had significant blockages in his heart vessels, which led to a heart attack. Some news reports also said he had a history of chest pain. At the age of 53, his death is an untimely loss for his family and for fans of his music.

Now, would he have survived if he had been quickly transported to the hospital? There are several ifs here: if the place of the event had an ambulance, if the ambulance had received cardiac assistance, and if the hospital had had better cardiac care facilities… Even if all of these conditions had been met, there would still have been no guarantee that KK could have been saved.

That said, research has shown that the chances of survival would have been greatly improved if these conditions were in place. People with chest pain and other related symptoms who call an ambulance receive faster, more appropriate treatment – ​​and have a better survival rate.

The length of time between when a person first has symptoms and when angioplasty is performed in a hospital is called the treatment period and is clinically significant for most classic cases of heart attacks. Medical guidelines say it should be 90 minutes or less. An angioplasty opens blocked blood vessels and restores circulation, allowing the heart to recover. Longer treatment time is associated with greater heart muscle damage and death.

The organizers of the KK concert in Kolkata claimed that an ambulance was present at the scene, but it does not appear to have been used, if at all. Instead, KK was taken by private vehicle to his hotel and then to hospital when he showed signs of aggravation.

If an ambulance had transported him to the hospital, what pre-hospital treatment could have been initiated? Having trained personnel recognizing the signs of a heart attack and starting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (or CPR) is essential for survival. If a defibrillator is present, they can use it to “read” the heart rhythm and correct abnormalities if any.

The essential elements of an emergency medical system (EMS) for cardiac patients are: ambulance operations, a call center and health facilities. The most common emergency response model in India is the one you get when you dial 108, run by the Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI), in several states. EMRI began operations in Andhra Pradesh in 2005 with a fleet of 30 ambulances in 50 towns in the state. He is responsible for handling medical, police and fire emergencies through the 108 emergency service.

Currently, almost all the states and union territories in India have EMS facilities in various forms. Of the total number of ambulances in a given state, a fraction is equipped with basic resuscitation or advanced resuscitation facilities.

Advanced heart life support (ACLS) ambulances are the upgraded versions of regular ambulances and provide services to people with heart problems and those who need such care, such as adequate blood circulation and ventilation, during prehospital transport.

The equipment for these ambulances should include advanced medical support, including intravenous supplies, heart monitors, intubation equipment and ventilators, as well as a dedicated intensive care team to manage various conditions such as arrest. heart and stroke. Most ACLS ambulances appear to be available in urban centers across the country.

A 2020 AIIMS Delhi report on emergency care and casualty care in district hospitals in India noted that although 88% of hospitals have in-house ambulances, the trained paramedics needed to assist emergency services ambulance were only present in 3%. The availability of specialist care during ambulance transport was particularly poor: only 12% of district hospitals had a mobile stroke/STEMI program (for heart attacks). Most hospitals also lacked a pre-hospital arrival notification system.

In 2015-2016, approximately two people died of heart attacks every hour, which represents a significant burden on the health system. The AIIMS report recommended a preventative emergency health care strategy, such as the National Injury Prevention Program, which included a robust emergency injury care initiative and the installation of automated external defibrillators in locations. where people congregate in large numbers, such as schools, malls and railways. stations.

The Indian government’s guidelines also recommended, as part of its COVID-19 restrictions, emergency medical services at these venues as well as at political rallies, religious festivals, fairs, processions, concerts and plays. theater. But there doesn’t seem to be a stipulation as to the number of ambulances based on the number of people at a location. EMS and paramedics also confirmed that ambulances are usually provided at the request of local authorities and police and not because there is a specific rule or policy requiring them to do so.

While large gatherings, such as the Kumbh Mela, have full emergency medical services, smaller gatherings like concerts have no specific requirements. Such events are mostly commercial in nature, and their organization costs should also provide for a private ambulance service. The loss of KK is tragic. This should prompt a thorough assessment of emergency medical services during such occurrences in India. Perhaps the singers themselves can take the first step by emphasizing them.

V. Ramana Dhara is a physician who explores the links between health and the environment and has written extensively on disaster medicine. He’s on Twitter at @RamanaDhara.

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