By: Pankaj Sood
Solan: Himachal Pradesh is all set to become the third state in the country to start free ambulance service by April this year. By dialing toll-free number 108, people across the state will be able to avail free ambulance with trained medical staff at their doorstep.
The service is being launched with help from a private Indian company having expertise in emergency response & care. The service will have fixed responses timings, i.e. maximum 30 minutes for urban areas and 45 minutes for rural hilly areas.
A total of 150 fully equipped ambulances will be placed at different locations of the state. All ambulances will have GPS connectivity and life-saving equipment on board. Trained medical staff will accompany these ambulances for first aid and pre-hospital treatment. The whole service is planned to be controlled by a single centralized call center. This call center is proposed to be stationed at Dharmpur in Solan district. The call center staff will not only ensure timely reach of ambulances at the required places but they will also ensure that patient is brought to the right hospital at the right time. The call center will also ensure early preparation in the hospitals for critical patients.
The service will be managed by M/s Anjana Aicher Health and Emergency Management, a private expert in medical response and having collaborations with a German company. The state government will reimburse the amount spent on the service by the company. An agreement in this regard was signed between the two parties in January this year. The government has sanctioned a total beget of Rs 20 crore for the scheme. Yearly Rs 10-crore recurring expenses are projected for the scheme. It may be noted that only Uttarakhand and Gujarat have such a service in the country. In 2009, Himachal Pradesh was ranked No. 1 among big states in the country in providing health care services by a reputed media group.