The Madras High Court Bench here on Thursday directed the State Government to consider the viability of integrating the toll free ‘108’ ambulance service, implemented through a private enterprise, along with the Government’s old practice of engaging private hospitals to provide free ambulance services on the highways.

Disposing of a public interest litigation petition, a Division Bench comprising Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice K.B.K. Vasuki directed the Chief Secretary to the Government as well as the Health Secretary to consider a representation given by the petitioner on January 3 to integrate both the new and old ambulance services and pass appropriate orders within eight weeks.

The petitioner, A. Jeyaprakash Narayanasamy of Tirunelveli, said that the Government had paid Rs.55.55 crore for the ‘108’ ambulance service. Yet it was not effective, he alleged, and said that the ambulance took nearly 45 minutes to reach the spot when a sub-inspector was bombed and hacked to death by a gang on a highway near Alwarkurichi in Tirunelveli district on January 7.

He recalled that the Government had devised a Road Safety Action Plan in 2002. As per the plan, leading hospitals came forward to establish Emergency Accident Relief Centres on the highways besides providing their ambulances free of charges. Of 100 centres established so far, 66 were managed without any aid from the Government while 34 others were assisted partially.

Hence, integrating both the new as well as the old ambulance services would help in providing effective trauma care to the needy, the petitioner claimed.

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