Valley hospitals using ambulances, without basic life support, GPS

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Srinagar: In violation to the guidelines set up the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the ambulances, the directorate Health Kashmir is using ambulances even without the Basic Life Support (BLS) system.

The Ambulance services must carry equipment and medications as per requirement of treatment protocols, a guideline issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare says. It must meet any international standard for Ambulance Supplies specifications”.

However in the valley hospitals a white Mazda vehicle or a pickup van fitted with a couch is termed as Ambulance in the valley.

These ambulances are no better than the passenger vehicles, Habib-ullah of Kupwara told KNS.

Official sources told KNS that the ambulances of the Health department don’t meet even the basic requirements. This increases the mortality rate as no emergency medical aid is available to the patients”.

They said that the ambulances are not accompanied by any trained paramedic and the responsibility is taken by the attendants.

The set standards make it mandatory for the ambulance to have all the necessary equipments for the Basic, Advanced and Cardiac Life Support system.

As per set standards, an ambulance van should be accompanied by a first responder, an ambulance care assistant and a paramedic trained in Advanced Life Support system. The van should be air conditioned and have crash-resistant cots, Airway, ventilation, oxygen and suction equipment that consist of portable oxygen with a minimum 350 liter capacity, an in-ambulance oxygen system with a minimum 1200 liter capacity and other emergency equipment.

Meanwhile sources told KNS that the GPS is not working in existing ambulances in the state thus risking the lives of the people.

The GPS is necessary for the ambulances as every second in a medical emergency is being counted by this equipment so that ambulances reach their destinations as quickly as possible.

But here in the state, although the GPS is fitted in ambulances but is not working thus putting the lives of patients at stake during the emergency.

An official of health department told KNS that ambulances that are available in hospitals are as good as “trucks with no resuscitation facilities and trained staff”.

“None of these vehicles are fitted GPS, with life support systems rendering them no better than regular transport vehicles. Patients ferried in these so-called ambulances have no advantage over a patient travelling in a normal vehicle,” the official said. “These vehicles are just while colored vans with a siren,” he added.

Majority of critically ill patients die in transit or reach hospitals in a morbid condition as the ambulances carrying them lack equipment and qualified staff.

Similarly, authorities had earlier propose that “25 Critical Care Ambulances” for the emergencies, including road accidents will be placed along the Srinagar-Jammu Highway and other accident prone areas after every 30 km distance. But even after over four years proposal is yet to be implemented on the ground.

Due to the inordinate delay, the lives of thousands of patients are being risked as the referrals for ventilator support are ferried in the ambulances that are mere “patient carriers”.

Official sources in the health department said that on practical grounds, nothing has been done on ground to initiate such emergency services.

However one of the senior officials of the health department insisted not to be named said that the government is working on critical care ambulance services.

Director Health Services Kashmir, Saleem-u-Rehman has said some 50 hi-tech ambulances will be soon introduced in the state with GPS technology and other fully equipped with emergency gadgets.

He said earlier the 102 ambulance service was introduced on pilot basis but that didn’t work as the vehicles weren’t found fit for the service. “Now we are coming up with new 102 ambulance services very soon,” he has told KNS. (KNS)

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