Alappuzha: The state government is going to entrust the 108 ambulance service to private sector after putting forward strict conditions. In case the ambulance did not arrive on time to save the injured during accidents or emergencies, those who took up the ambulance service will have to pay a fine.
The ambulance must reach the accident spot within 15 minutes in urban areas and within 20 minutes in rural areas. The time limit can be upto 20 minutes in hillside regions. The percentage of how many times the ambulance failed to reach on time will be evaluated every month. This is to avoid patient's death due to delay in ambulance service.
The new conditions are put forward as part of the state-wide extension of the 108 ambulance service, which presently exists only in Thiruvananthapuram and Alappuzha districts. The 108 ambulance will continue free service for taking patients who need emergency medical care from households to hospitals.
The ambulance service will be available for shifting patients in critical condition from private hospitals to government hospitals. However, the service will not be available for shifting patients referred from government hospitals to private hospitals or from private hospitals to other private hospitals.
The National Health Mission (NHM) was in charge of the 108 ambulance service including the scheme of Kerala Medical Service Corporation Limited (KMSCL). As part of extending the service to all districts, the charge of conducting the service has been handed over to GVK EMRI Emergency Management Services.
Though emergency care is provided, there is no ventilator facility in the ambulance. The ambulances in Alappuzha and Thiruvananthapuram have ventilator but it was never used. This is cited as the reason for not installing a ventilator in the new ambulances.
There will be 340 ambulances for all 14 districts in the state. It will start service by the end of August. The ambulance service will be available at every 30 km on national highways and other major accident prone areas.
Service of female nurses too
The service should be requested from Thiruvananthapuram controlling unit where a panel of doctors will be present. The nurse in the ambulance will provide first aid according to the directions of the doctors and will take the patient to the nearest hospital.
At present, only male nurses work in 108 ambulances. But the new ambulances will provide service for female nurses also. The service of female nurses will be available only during day hours.