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september 2012
Chain SnatchingA Facet Of Crime & Emergency
Prarthna Tiga
Motor-cycle borne miscreants snatching gold chains from women can no longer be looked at as small-time crime. Increasingly, it is a case where the victims are just about escaping with their life. The modus operandi of chain snatchers varies from place to place.

They are generally seen to target lonely dark stretches, or crowded places such as public parks, markets or outside schools where women come to pick and drop their children. The most vulnerable are lone women on foot.

Doctors of Emergency Medicine observe that active resistance in the form of patrolling cops and frequent checking of pillion riders account for just that - descent efforts by law enforcers.

According to Dr Priyadarshini Pal Singh, Head of Emergency Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi there is a need for practical measures that will prevent additional injuries inflicted by shooting, stabbing or suffocating the victim.

At Apollo Hospitals Chennai, doctors recently saw themselves performing a four-hour long emergency surgery on a 52-year-old victim of chain snatching or gold robbery. Dr Babu Manohar, who led the team of doctors, observes that the hospital receives one or two cases as victims of chain snatching every six months, but that is not to mean the incidence is so less. As Dr Dhavapalani, Head of its Emergency Medicine explained, since victims of chain snatching come under medico- A Facet Of Crime & Emergency legal purview, police rush them to government hospitals and very few cases are reported at private units. In the case of Dr Babu Manohar’s patient Shanthi (name changed), her voice box, food and windpipe were completely sliced. A man posing as a customer had entered her shop, snatched her chain and cut-off her throat before escaping so that she would not raise an alarm.

The doctor observed that Shanthi was critical when she was brought before them. Any delay could have caused death due to excessive bleeding. Vital blood vessels and nerves were affected and the cut stretched across her entire neck starting from near the right ear down to the left side of her neck. Well-trained paramedics with sound knowledge and common sense to deal with such an emergency, made all the difference between life and death for Shanthi, he said.

Prior warning from the paramedics made it easier for the emergency team to be ready to receive the victim, pointed out Dr Dhavapalani. The paramedics had already intubated her through slit trachea, gained central venous pressure and transfused blood, making it easy for the emergency team to shift her to the OT immediately upon arrival at the hospital, they pointed out. While the initial surgery, where her speech and swallowing mechanisms were restored, was itself complicated, the surgeons had another challenge to face. The right side of Shanthi’s face was paralyzed calling for another surgery three weeks later. A rare case of survival, Shanthi can now swallow and breathe and even eat properly but her voice quality is yet to improve.

When Out, Watch Out!
  • Avoid wearing heavy jewellery
  • Be alert especially when alone. Avoid poorly lit roads
  • Avoid wearing jewellery at crowded and public places
  • Keep time and safety a criteria before making daily schedules
  • Help increase awareness
  • Trust your instincts

To qutote Shanthi’s husband, “Our shop is located in a busy area and we did not expect this to happen in such a place where people are around all the time.” Shanthi was lucky she survived a near fatal attack and injury. Whether flaunting one’s social status or adhering to cultural traditions, wearing gold or heavy jewellery, especially in crowded places or on completely lonely stretches means inviting trouble. And even though help is available, ignoring the fact and waiting for things to take its own course won’t do.

On your part – protect yourself.