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Hi-tech ambulances only for VVIPs in Chandigarh

Three advanced life support ambulances belong to GMCH-32, used for non-VIP patients only twice in 9 years.

punjab Updated: Aug 09, 2018 19:38 IST
Tanbir Dhaliwal
Tanbir Dhaliwal
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Hi-tech ambulance,Chandigarh,Government Medical College and Hospital
An advanced life support ambulance at the Panchkula civil hospital. A mini intensive care unit, it has almost every facility — ventilator, defibrillator, BP monitor and suction machine — to stabilise a critically ill patient or accident victim while on the way to hospital. Unlike in Chandigarh, it caters to the whole district, not just VVIPs.(HT Photo )

Three advanced life support (ALS) ambulances with the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, have been kept on VVIP duty, with none available for the common man.

In fact, these are the only ALS ambulances available in Chandigarh.

An ALS is in effect a mini intensive care unit (ICU) with almost every facility to stabilise a critically ill patient or accident victim while on the way to hospital.

The first of these ambulances was bought in 2009 while the other two were donated under the Member Parliament (MP) quota in 2015 and 2016.

Other than these three, GMCH has six basic life support (BLS) ambulances for the general public.

“The ALS ambulances are not under the Chandigarh health department or UT pool and belong to GMCH-32. These are only on VVIP duty,” said Dr Harish Dasari, who is in charge of ambulance services at the hospital.

Dr Dasari confirmed that these ambulances have been used “only once or twice” for non-VIPs.

On why other patients are deprived of this facility, he said: “They usually don’t meet the parameters.”

“During the first fortnight every month, two ambulances remain on duty with the Punjab and Haryana governors. Even the third ambulance is keep on standby in case the two ambulances break down,” said a GMCH official, who did not wish to be named.

“From the 16th to 30th of every month, the ambulances are kept stationed here. They are used in case the PM visits the city or neighbouring states or for other VVIP patients or for mock drills,” said the official.

The ventilator of one of the ambulances is not working, said the official.

Chandigarh makes do with basic ambulances

In the neighbouring Panchkula, the Sector-6 civil hospital, too, has three ALS ambulances. These cater to the whole district, not just VVIPs. “One ALS ambulance makes around eight rounds a day,” said an official. “We have placed an order for five more such ambulances as these are very effective.”

However, the utility of these hi-tech ambulances seems to be lost on the UT health department, which has not even considered procuring them. It has just BLS ambulances, which are as good as any other transport vehicle with additional facilities like a stretcher, first-aid kid and oxygen cylinder.

“The UT health department has 13 ambulances – six under 108 and seven under 102 helpline. All have just basic life support system,” said Dr Satbir Singh, acting medical superintendent of Government Multi Specialty Hospital, Sector 16.

On need for ALS ambulances, Dr Singh said: “We should have one, but we’ll also need more technical staff to run it.”

An ALS ambulance is a well-equipped air-conditioned vehicle with a ventilator, moving stretcher, scoop stretcher, ambu bag and other basic medical equipment needed in emergency. It has a storage space for over 20 medicines and a small fridge to keep blood bags. All these facilities are missing in a BLS ambulance.

“In a medical emergency, it is not only time but the way a patient is shifted that matters a lot,” said Dr Sameer Aggarwal, in-charge, Advanced Trauma Centre, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER). “Even while shifting a patient over a short distance from GMCH to PGIMER should be done in a proper way.”

Dr Aggarwal said an ALS ambulance is crucial as it helps in ventilating a patient with respiratory distress.

“In accident cases, you cannot directly lift a patient who has suffered a fracture, especially spinal injuries. You have to bring the stretcher to his level for shifting. These facilities are not there is a BLS ambulance,” he said.

First Published: Aug 09, 2018 11:48 IST