Undue delay in launch of ‘108’ ambulance service in Chandigarh

  • Tanbir Dhaliwal, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Dec 08, 2015 12:09 IST
The 108 emergency service ambulances stationed at the GMSH, Sector 16, Chandigarh. The system is functional in over 15 states and two UTs, but not in Chandigarh. (HT Photo)

Though the neighbouring states had launched 108 emergency medical service several years ago, the UT is still struggling to find out ways to make it operation. The project is pending for several years now.

The 108 facility is an emergency response system, primarily designed to attend patients of critical care, trauma and accident victims and others. The system is functional in over 15 states and two UTs, but not in Chandigarh.

Presently, around 10 ambulances are functional in the city. All of them operate under the 102 ambulance service that consists of basic transport facility only. The administration has now purchased six ambulances — to be equipped with resuscitation equipment, different types of stretchers, and trained emergency medical technicians to render quality pre-hospital care — under the 108 service. Having the GPS system installed on them, the ambulances will be stationed at different locations. The process to launch the facility was started in the beginning of 2015, things haven’t moved much since then.

Tenders called off twice

The tenders floated to invite private companies to run the 108-ambulance service were called off twice. Last month, health secretary Anurag Aggarwal had said instead of roping in a private firm, the health department would now run the service on its own.

“The project is pending for the past several years. We had floated the tenders but due to one reason or the other, they were cancelled. Previously we wanted to hire a private firm to operate it, but as the tenders failed, it was decided to run it departmentally.”

He added, “We need not reinvent the wheel. With the help of the UT police, we will operate a call centre from their control room. Moreover, to have a common control room in command is the future aim of the smart city project.”

UT police control room to help

Dr VK Gagneja, director health services, said, “We will use the infrastructure of the UT police to operate our six ambulances under the 108 facility.”

He added, “The details have been discussed with the DIG, and a final decision will be taken in a meeting on Tuesday.”

Launch by Jan first week

Gagneja said, “Since the issue of a call centre has been solved, we will now recruit emergency medical technicians, who will be provided two-week training. Also, the equipment for the ambulances will be purchased, and by January first week, we will launch the service.”

How it works

As soon as a patient dials 108, he is connected to a call centre. The customer sevice executive, after checking the caller’s address, directs an ambulance in the nearby area to ferry the patient to the hospital.

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