The Union skill development and entrepreneurship ministry plans to train Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) students for running and maintaining pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants coming up across India. According to a person aware of the matter, at least 84 master trainers have been trained for the purpose and more ITI students will be identified for taking over the running and maintenance of these plants at the district levels.
In May, the Union health and family welfare ministry asked all states and private hospitals, where the PSA oxygen plants will be set up, to ensure that they have trained personnel to handle their operations.
The Prime Minister’s Office in April announced the allocation of funds from the PM-Cares Fund for 551 PSA medical oxygen generation plants to augment the availability of oxygen to hospitals. The new plants are in addition to the earlier sanctioned 162 plants. They will be set up in government hospitals at district headquarters.
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A leakage at a storage plant in a civic hospital in Maharashtra’s Nashik in April that killed 22 patients following an interruption in the supply of oxygen highlighted the need to have trained personnel. A similar tragedy in Maharashtra’s Parbhani district was prevented after trained staff managed to shift 14 patients on oxygen support to another hospital when the supply was disrupted by leakage in the pipeline. The instances of leakage coincided with a shortage of medical oxygen when the second Covid-19 wave overwhelmed the country’s healthcare system.
“The health ministry has issued instructions that PSA plants should be operated by trained technical manpower. Each hospital had to identify at least 2 to 3 people who are well trained in the operation of the PSA plant and depute them for operating these. The states and Union territories were asked to identify up to 5 master trainers who could in turn train people for employment at the district and hospital level. The skill development ministry… has trained master trainers in collaboration with IIT [Indian Institute of Technology] Kanpur and Naval Dock, Vishakhapatnam…,” said the person, requesting anonymity.
Hospitals have also been asked to ensure bedside cylinders for non-critical patients. The ministry will also train staff in the use of concentrators and oxygen cylinders for use in hospitals as well as for home care.
“The PSA plant operators will be trained to handle routine maintenance aspects and minor faults such as electrical or technical problems so that they can fix the problems on-site,” the person said.