A fleet of 95 ambulances under 108 service introduced
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, Dec 5: Admitting the worsening of 108 Mrityunjay ambulance service in the state, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday said that the service needed to be upgraded to minimize the call-response gap to 15 minutes.
Speaking at the ceremonial launch of a fleet of 95 new 108 ambulances at Srimanta Sankaradev Kalakshetra on Tuesday, Sarma said, “The 108 emergency service in the state has seen deteriorating due to several factors. The most important of those factors is that the fleet is ageing. The ambulances in this service ply on bad roads in remote villages and that lead to shortening of their lifespan than what it is expected.”
“While commissioning this service in 2008, we took a decision to change the fleet of ambulances under this service with new ones after every three years. In 2012-2013 we did as we had decided. However, we didn’t introduce any new 108 ambulances after 2013. Last year, we found that more than 100 ambulances were off the roads, leading the average response time from 26 minutes in 2008 to 33 minutes in 2016. Every day I started receiving messages and emails from various people about the deteriorating service. So this year we’ve had review meetings about the lacue and necessities to rejuvete the service.”
Sarma said that the launch of a fleet of 95 ambulance is for replacement of the off-the-road ambulances to decrease the time gap of call and response to the shortest possible.
The Health Minister said, “Just replacing the ambulances is not going to serve the purpose. Our roads shall be more developed and our pilots need to be more trained. Sometimes it is seen that people in 108 ambulance service don’t even know how to provide oxygen to patients. Due to untrained pilots in the service we often get to know about accidents happening and bringing delay for 108 to take patients. So, we should also train the pilots and examine their proficiency after every two-three months.”
“NHM should randomly call 10-15 technicians and ask them to demonstrate the service of the 108 ambulances and our doctors have to certify that they know everything about this emergency service. We’re also planning a grievance redressal mechanism through review meetings to be held at district level, involving NHM officials and senior citizens in every district,” he added.
Sarma told NHM officers and joint directors in clear terms that by April next all loopholes in the service had to be plugged so as to reduce the call-response gap to 10 minutes for urban and 15 minutes for rural areas on an average.