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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

Saviours on wheels need to go a longer way for patients

Anupam Srivastava, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, August 22, 2013
First Published: 10:45 IST(22/8/2013) | Last Updated: 10:49 IST(22/8/2013)

Case1: If you face a medical emergency, just dial 108 for an ambulance. This is exactly what GK Mullick did when he suffered a heart attack at his home in Lalkuan. He wanted to move to a hospital in Gomti Nagar but was bluntly told by the call centre staff that he could at best be taken to a nearby government hospital.

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Case 2: Asharani Gupta of Aliganj had a fracture after an accident in Aliganj. Herkin called 108 but the person who received call said the ambulance can’t be sent for fracture cases, it can only be sent for life threatening diseases.

In both the cases, these patients had to arrange for private ambulances, which not only charged exorbitantly but were also not well equipped.

Recently, a private ambulance caught fire in Banthra and all four patients in it were charred to death.

In the light of the above incidents there’s need to improve government ambulance services, said noted social worker Bhaiyyaji who keeps working for the cause of patients in Shyama Prasad Mukherji Hospital and Balrampur Hospital.

“I know that the 108 ambulances are doing a great job for us, but with slight improvements they can do wonders. Now that the service is 11 months old, they have enough experience to improve services,” he added.

People believe that government ambulances are a better option as compared to the private ones.

But they want to see some amendments in the ambulance rules (they want patients to be dropped to private hospitals as well).

Most of the private ambulances don’t provide any sort of life support system and expert help like emergency medical technician (who is trained to handle emergencies).

No wonder, during the last 11 months more than 8,500 births have taken place in government ambulances itself.

Emergency technicians helped 16,000 deliveries take place in remote places where it was difficult to move the patients.

In Lakhimpur Khiri, even a triplet was born in an ambulance.

Rajesh Waghmare, CEO of 108 ambulance service, GVK EMRI (UP), says: “The aim of 108 ambulances is to provide prompt service during medical emergencies, provide first aid, stabilise patients and transport them to the nearest CHC or government hospital as quickly as possible.”

“Our ambulances can drop patients to government hospitals but not to private hospitals because there are certain rules which we have to adhere. The diversion of ambulances to preferred hospitals would only be possible only after the change in rules, which is in the hands of the government,” he said.

More than 6,000 patients are taken to hospitals every day in Lucknow while around 100 are admitted to government hospitals daily by 13 ambulances, he said.

“During the last 11 months of our ambulance service, more than 10.5 lakh patients have been admitted to hospitals, which means lakhs of lives have been saved,” added Waghmare.

He said unlike private ambulances, government ones have all the necessary life-saving equipment like oxygen cylinder, stretchers, emergency medical kit etc required to handle emergencies.

Medicines are also available in these ambulances and specially trained emergency medical technicians are also present wherever the ambulance goes during the shifting of patient.

SCENE OF PRIVATE AMBULANCES
Though private ambulances have good reach in the district, but the condition of these vehicles is pathetic.

The Banthra incident four days back where four people were burnt alive inside an ambulance proves that even the fitness of these ambulances is questionable.

After the incident, the RTO has issued directives for ensuring fitness of all the 481 private ambulances in the district. RTO AP Singh said, “If the private ambulances are not fit, they would not be allowed to ply. All these vehicles will have to undergo fitness test.”

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