Prank calls hit emergency ambulance services during Covid pandemic in Jharkhand

The provider of 108 ambulance service in Jharkhand claims that they receive around 40% fake or abusive calls per day which leads delay in providing ambulances to those who actually need the services.
An ambulance at PMCH campus in Dhanbad.(Chandan Paul/HT PHOTO)
An ambulance at PMCH campus in Dhanbad.(Chandan Paul/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Aug 24, 2020 05:02 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Ranchi | By Sanjoy Dey

Prank and fake calls have emerged as a major concern for the provider emergency ambulance services during the Covid-19 pandemic in Jharkhand, as these calls are leading to queues and delay in assigning the ambulances, officials said.

The state’s call centre for 108 Ambulance service gets around 40% fake calls every day, officials said.

In Jharkhand, people are often found complaining of not getting an ambulance in time or calls going unattended, which are often caused by fake or prank calls that result in less productivity and clogged telephone lines.

Sumit Basu, project head of Ziqitza Healthcare Ltd, which runs the emergency 108 ambulance service on behalf of Jharkhand government, said, “The fake and abusive calls have turned out to be a big hurdle in smooth functioning of the emergency ambulance service during the pandemic Covid period. At this time of crisis, some people still do not understand the seriousness of emergency services.”

Basu said, “We receive 6,000-7,000 calls a day at our centralized call centre in Doranda. However, 40% of them are either fake or abusive or unimportant calls, which not only waste the time of the employee attending the calls but also delay the service to the persons who might need it urgently.”

The emergency ambulance service was started in Jharkhand on November 15, 2017. At present, 337 ambulances are functioning across the 24 districts of the state. According to the agency, the ambulances have provided services to the 4,75,625 people till August 18, 2020.

Basu said after the outbreak of Covid-19 in March, a total of 80 ambulances have been dedicated for Covid patients. “These ambulances are not used for other patients, as it needs extra precautions and safety. Since March, more than 11,000 Covid-19 patients have been transferred through these ambulances,” Basu said.

There are many instances where an ambulance service was sought but when the vehicle reached the spot, there was no patient, he said. The abusive and prank calls also hit the morale of the employees and also irritate them sometimes.

“We have many times blocked the numbers of fake callers and also lodged a few FIRs. But, people will have to understand that fake calls might deprive people from availing the ambulance services in extreme need,” he said.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2021