Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ambulance Paramedic Services are a Joke

Hello, I need a Ambulance!
Dial 100.
Oh man, 100 is not the number for Ambulance, anyway it does not work from Mobile Phones.
OK, dial Ambulance Number then.
What is the number?
I don't Know.
Look in that yellow book.
OK got it.
Hello, we need a Ambulance, the address is....
Sorry Sir, please call hospital near you, we are located very far.
OK, let me try again.
Hello, we need a Ambulance, the address is...
Ok sir, it is on its way, it will reach you in 45 minutes.
Hello, 45 minutes???
Yes sir, traffic problem, better to bring patient directly in a car.
Ok, thankyou for your advice.

This is not a out of the world conversation. The reason you do not hear about it often is that you are blessed and lucky enough to not having been involved in such a medical emergency.

India's Ambulance and Paramedical Services - are just a lip service. Nothing more. I would even say a cruel joke.

Consider the following:
  • There is no central number to call to in case of emergency. There should be a nodal agency which manages such things - and that was supposed to be the Health Ministry. Huh...Mr Ambumani Ramdoss is interested in Colas, and Yoga bashing. Where are the silly NGOs? Why don't they talk about such important issues.

  • Most emergency numbers would not work from your Mobile Phones. Try them.

  • Ambulances would invariably get struck in traffic - forget about giving way - there is no way!

  • Ambulance should always carry critical equipment and manpower like Oxygen Cylinders, Trained Paramedic staff (or a doctor). But does this happen in India?

  • Ambulances are very often actually used by Hospitals to drop and pick up their staff from their residence (Talk about creativity). High court was forced to comment on this issue.
Ask any medical practitioner, and he will tell you about the Golden Hour. The first hour within which a accident/trauma victim needs attention. But who has time for all this - there are more important matters of alleged Cola Pesticides and removing a AIIMS director to deal with. How wrong have we got our priorities?

This is nothing but utter lack of planning on the part of civic administration, and a direct result of the low value attached to human life in our society.


At 9:45 PM, Blogger Kiran said...


that was an excellent post. Bang on target. In addition to low value attached to human life, there's the personal vendetta factor too (What say Mr. Ramdoss??)

In such cases where we can pin no hopes on the Govt or authorities, the NGO's have a crucial role to play. They are found to be lacking in this case too.

Finally regarding the traffic thing, there's not much that can be done. You should see the situation in Bangalore - an ambulance with sirens blaring stuck in a half-a-kilometer long traffic queue, and our "large-hearted" motorists further making life miserable for the ambulance. My heart bleeds to see that instead of making way for the ambulance, ppl r more interested in making hay while the sun shines - they rush to "follow" an ambulance since it gives them a chance of breaking all traffic signals and rules!

At 6:20 PM, Blogger Ashish said...

This is a good post, covers an area that is very important.
So many times in Delhi traffic I have seen ambulances blaring with their siren, but stuck in traffic and no hope of getting clear easily.

At 1:49 AM, Anonymous Sajith M said...

Sad, but true.

The Outer Ring Road is supposed to be good for traffic (well at least I guess that was what it was designed for), and even there I have seen an ambulance with sirens take almost half an hour to manage a half kilometer strech. The reason, there is an intersection and a signal that allows the traffic only 30 seconds. Wonder if they don't have manual override, to allow the ambulance (and vehicles ahead of it) to go through?

Oh Btw, think 100 works as 080100 from a cell phone (for Bangalore)

At 10:29 PM, Blogger Musings on India said...

There is such a large disconnect between what the government is doing and what people need. I am not walking about wants but needs. Clean water and air, healthcare facilities, to be treated like human beings...just basic needs. These needs stay irrespective of what government is in power. What we lack are common minimum standards which we need. I thought that the common minimum plan for the UPA government might have some meat but its a joke. Have a look at it ( 24 pages of pure daydreaming and rhetoric.

At 7:01 PM, Anonymous silkboard said...

So I was driving once, Sajith, incidentally on ORR, heard an ambulance honk behind me. I went left, made some space for the ambulance. Next I see, a Zen and an Ikon rush to take the space I created. The two raced ahead as the Ambulance continues to honk. And yet again I shot my imaginary gun at that Zen and Ikon's tires.

At 7:35 PM, Blogger Musings on India said...

read this some place. thought i'd share. seems like progress...

When it comes to efficiency, look to the private sector. For a living proof see the Emergency Management Research Institute (EMRI) a nonprofit, private company with a mission to provide India's first ever unified number(call 108) to dial in a case of an emergency. With astonishing results, so far they have covered 25 million people in the state of Andhara Pradesh, Newsweek reports:

Since it launched in August 2005, EMRI has answered 95 percent of its calls in two rings and has taken 14 minutes on average to reach each patient—a good performance given the current state of near-permanent gridlock in many of India’s towns and cities.

Nice work. For more praise read the Economist.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Pegasus said...

the basic problem is that people in india do not give way to a ambulance... they feel their work is more important than saving a life.

At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Annalise said...

Keep up the good work.


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