Patients suffer as 108 ambulance service remains suspended in Shimla
Locals are helpless with the emergency service refusing to send vehicleUpdated: Jan 13, 2020 22:47 IST
A week after the state capital experienced heaviest snowfall of the season, the emergency ambulance service-108 remained suspended even as patients struggle to reach hospitals.
Launched in 2010, the main objective of the cost-free ambulance service is to transport the people in case of medical emergencies to the nearest hospital. Locals are helpless with the emergency service refusing to send vehicle.
Aditi Singh, a teacher, found herself in piquant situation a week back when she called up 108 ambulance service and she was denied service. Aditi had called the toll free number of the ambulance service when her father-in-law suffered gastroenteritis bleeding. Aditi then sought help from Shimla police, which sent their vehicles to carry the patient to the Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC).
But all are not as fortunate as Aditi and they have to rely on private taxis, which charge double the fare amount to drive through snow-bound roads, in absence of the emergency service. 108 ambulance service has nearly a dozen vehicles which cater to medical emergencies in Shimla town, but majority of them have been grounded after seasons first snow fall.
“Shimla police are extending help to the people in medical emergencies in absence of the 108 service. Police vehicles are ferrying patients to hospitals. We have helped around two dozen patients in reaching hospitals while police personnel are also carrying bodies from hospital to cremation grounds,” said Shimla superintendent of police (SP) Omapati Jamwal.
“We have deployed nearly a dozen vehicles to cater to medical emergencies in the town and its surrounding areas, however, currently only three are plying due to heavy snowfall,” said Akashdeep, program manager, GVK EMRI, Shimla.
Shimla deputy commissioner Amit Kashyap said the administration has already passed written instruction directing the ambulances service provider to put vehicles in state of readiness.
“I have told them time and again to provide the emergency service to patients in crucial winter months,” said Kashyap.
Chief secretary Anil Kumar Khachi said that necessary instruction have been passed on to health secretary. He said in many localities, people are forced to carry patients on their back while in some cases, patients are tied to chair and carried on shoulders to hospital.
There are nearly three dozen compliant where 108 have declined to provide service.