The number of state-run ambulances in the city has reduced by 21% since the free service was introduced in January 2014.
Officials said that the response to the 24-hour ambulance service had been underwhelming despite it being provided to people free of charge.
“We hadn’t expected that this service would get such a poor response given the traffic congestions in the city,” said Dilip Jhadav, a consultant with Maharashtra Medical Emergency Services (MEMS). He added that people could be using private ambulance services- a reason why the state’s service hasn’t seen much popularity.
The free ambulance service is part of the state’s MEMS project under the national health mission. In 2014, the state deployed 142 ambulances. The number has now reduced to 112.
The ambulances respond to the 108 distress call, and transport patients to the nearest state-run, civic-run or trust-run hospital. However, they do not transport patients to private hospitals.
At present, the state has 26 Advance Life Support (ALS) and 86 Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances. ALS ambulances provide cardiac monitoring whereas BLS ambulances don’t.
“All these ambulances are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and there are trained doctors and paramedics who come in the ambulance,” said
He added that over the last two years they have allocated ambulances from the city to other districts.
State officials even put efforts to promote the service through advertising at popular theatres in the city. “We get just one phone call per day, even though the number of people who require ambulance services in the city is a lot more,” said a state official.
Satish Pawar, directorate of health services said many ambulances from the city have been relocated to neighbouring districts, where the service is utilised.