Himachal Free Ambulance Service Shapes Up

Shimla: Fast medical emergency intervention vehicles, launched on 25th December to mark former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday, after whom the scheme is named Atal Swasthya Sewa, has already got off to a flying start handling 543 emergencies in a fortnight.

Equipped with a global positioning system (GPS), the state health services in collaboration with GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI) under Public-Private Partnership launched 50 ambulances under the scheme in districts of Shimla, Kangra, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Solan and Sirmaur.

Within a fortnight, the round the clock emergency response centre, till date has received over 12,500 calls at the toll free number 108 and responded to 543 emergency situations said a health spokesman.

With most of the calls received being enquiry calls about the service, the free ambulances expected to to get to a person suffering from critical ailments or a pregnant woman needing timely hospitalization within 25 minutes in urban areas and 35 minutes in rural areas have proved effective as 72 % of the emergency situations handled was the facility being timely availed by pregnant women.

Majority of the calls were received from Shimla and Sirmaur districts followed by Hamirpur and Bilaspur districts, the spokesman said. By March, the service would be extended to other districts.

The ambulances are equipped to handle 42 types of emergencies, have life saving equipment like automatic internal defibrillators, pulse oxymeter, oxygen supply, nebulisers, suction machine, glucometer, electronic blood pressure measuring apparatus, five types of stretchers and splints, extraction kit, medicines and IV fluids on board.

With an annual operational expenditure estimated at Rs 14.39 crore per year and a capital expenditure of Rs 18 crore, the service will engage 609 personnel, which includes 300 pilots (drivers), 300 Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), 4 doctors and 13 communication officers. Police personnel have also been deployed to coordinate medico-legal cases.

To respond to the emergency call, direct and coordinate the ambulances deployed out across the state, a call centre has been established in Solan district.

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