The only oxygen plant in Bihar’s Purnea district broke down around 3.30 a.m. on May 12. The plant would meet the district’s everyday needs, but it lacked a storage facility for the medical oxygen it provided.
By 7 a.m., Purnea’s nodal officers’ WhatsApp groups were flooded with SOS messages, and people had taken to social media to call for assistance.
This was the “biggest disaster” so far during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic for Purnea district, which is 300 kilometres from the state capital Patna.
With each social media message, panic spread quickly. Nearly 250 critically ill patients in 13 hospitals, 40 of whom were on ventilators, were on the verge of losing their lives if medical oxygen could not be arranged within a few hours.
Purnea, on the other hand, avoided a catastrophe, thanks to District Magistrate Rahul Kumar.
The top official not only secured the necessary medical oxygen in a matter of hours, but also managed to restart the broken-down oxygen plant in the Maranga industrial area, 5 kilometres from the city centre, in less than a day.
Many Twitter users praised the 2011-batch IAS officer for his quick thinking, which saved the day.
Kumar later told the press that he “did not waste a single minute passing orders or documents” in order to accomplish the ultimate objective of saving lives.