Govt set to hire 151 more ambulances, give monetary incentives to drivers & paramedics
The Delhi government is all set to hire 151 ambulances by next week, thereby scaling up the size of the city’s public ambulance fleet on dedicated Covid-19 service to around 750, a senior government official said on Thursday.
The official further said that the government also has plans to rope in a private enterprise to get another 400 vehicles to start an app-based taxi ambulances scheme and implement a scheme to provide incentives to ambulance staff. These initiatives are part of the agenda for the next cabinet meeting.
Government records showed that on March 31, there were 134 ambulances in the city government’s fleet which were pressed into dedicated Covid-19 duty. The number rose to 163 by April 30; to 357 on May 30 and it jumped to 602 as on June 30.
Other than the government ones, private hospitals and enterprises in the city operate around 600 more ambulances, which can be availed by patients on a chargeable basis. The government ambulance service is free of cost.
“Since the beginning of the lockdown, the government has focused its energies on augmenting the fleet size of ambulances pressed into Covid-19 management. In three months, we have succeeded in reducing the response time per call significantly. Also, we have been able to ensure that people can depend on the government ambulance system without any stress,” said Jasmine Shah, vice-chairperson of the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi, an advisory body to the Delhi government.
Government records accessed by HT showed that the response time for ambulances has reduced from 55 minutes per call on May 31 to less than 30 minutes per call on July 7.
Between July 1 and July 7, the city government’s helplines received 972 calls per day, which had to be transferred to the department managing ambulances, records showed. These are calls that largely pertain to movement of patients between hospitals; from hospitals to hotels engaged in covid service;from covid health centres to hospitals and from residence of patients to hospitals, health centres and test centres.
A senior government official said: “The decisions to hire 151 ambulances, press into service taxi ambulances and notification of the incentive scheme is in the pipeline and will be taken up during the next meeting of the Delhi cabinet that is likely to happen in the next three days. Once approved, the new decisions are likely to be implemented by next week,” said the senior government official.
Under the incentive scheme, which is in the pipeline, ambulance and paramedics officials will be rewarded Rs 100 extra from every third call onwards that they attend in their 12-hours shift. “This initiative was drafted by the government to acknowledge the high-risk nature of the service provided by the ambulance drivers and paramedics,” said Shah.
After attending a call, every ambulance has to undergo a sanitisation process which alone takes around two hours, said an official in the health department, adding that in a 12-hour shift one ambulance usually able to cater to a maximum of four calls.
Till June 30, the government also had an arrangement with a popular cab aggregator service for providing taxi ambulances through their mobile application. Now, the government has planned to rope in a separate company that shall provide 400 vehicles to be used as taxi ambulances, a service which can be accessed through a mobile application, said another government official.