Himachal launches ambitious free ambulance service


Himachal Pradesh today became the tenth state in the country to start emergency response system by launching free ambulance service in the hill state.

Fifty ambulances were flagged of here by the state chief minister P.K.Dhumal in six districts.

“Another 58 ambulances will be added to cover all the twelve district of the state by February next year,taking the total number of ambulances to 108,”said Venkat Changavalli,CEO,GVK EMRI, a Hyderabad based non-profit society.

The round the clock free service has been named ‘Atal Swasthya Sewa’ on the birthday of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Of the 50 ambulances 12 support advanced life support(ALS) and 38 basic life support(BLS) ambulances.

“After dialling a toll free number the service will provide free transporation to all persons needing 42 different emergencies,” said Changavalli.

A public private partership (PPP) agreement between EMRI and the state government has already been signed in July this year.

The estimated operational expenditure on this service is Rs 14.39 crore per year and the capital expenditure is Rs 18 crore.

Around 669 personnel will be deployed to provide this service which includes 300 pilots(drivers) 300 emergency medical technican (EMT),4 doctors,13 communication officers.Police will also be deployed to coordinate medico-legal cases.

The response time of ambulances is targetted at 25 minutes in urban areas and 35 minutes in rural areas.

“With the launch of the service we hope to reduce morbidity and mortality due to accidents,poisoning,cardiac emergencies,stroke,snake bites and decrease maternal and infant mortality,”said Chagavalli.

Due to the state’s tough terrain,Himachal has a high accident rate in the country.Around 1000 lives are lost and 5000 get injured every year due to accidents.

Many suffer disabilities due to lack of timely medical care as a result of stroke,heart attack,poisoning,burn and snake bites.

GVK EMRI is sucessfully running this service in nine other states of the country.

Photo By: Amit Kanwar

In a 20 year career published widely. He has worked for the BBC, AFP, The Statesman, IANS and the Business Standard . Known for his hard hitting writing and occasional off-beat stories. He lives in Shimla.

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