One hundred babies, all born on board the ambulance. This has been the characteristic achievement of the 108 Ambulance Service since its inception in Tiruchi district in December 2008. Indeed, it is a century with a difference.

The 100th delivery was registered on Thursday, with S. Angala Easwari (27), wife of Selvaraj of Sikathambur village of Thuraiyur taluk who delivered a girl on board the emergency vehicle.

The State government, as a special sanction, allotted a dozen ambulances to the district — two advanced life support vehicles and ten basic life support vehicles. Of them, three ambulances have been rendering the service in the city limits, while the other ambulances are stationed in various rural areas.

The ambulance service has proved a big hit receiving at least 500 labour-pain related phone calls every month. A majority of these calls are only from the rural areas, including the villages situated in the Pachamalai hills, where a large number of tribal people reside in remote habitations. About 10 deliveries every month are attended to on board the ambulance.

Of the 37 trained emergency medical technicians posted in these ambulances, 22 are women, who are specially trained in attending to delivery cases. As soon as the information on the women was received from the Emergency Response Care Centre at Chennai, the ambulances rush to the concerned village/ habitation, with the aim of transporting the women to the nearby primary health centre or government hospital.

“Our primary objective is to ensure institutional delivery for ensuring a more hygienic process. But, the emergency situation, topography of the village/habitation; the bumpy condition of roads in the interior areas force us to halt the vehicle, as any journey beyond a critical point will do more harm than good to both the mother and the infant. Hence, the ambulance often turns into a mobile labour ward,” says District Operational Executive of 108 Ambulance Service, D. Kannan.

Of the 100 babies born on board the ambulances, 99 babies were born in interior rural areas. More interestingly, 17 tribal mothers were the largest beneficiaries among them, testifying to the interior topography of the habitations.

In Tiruchi City limits, one baby was born.