Pilots of the 108 ambulance service were honoured for their skill and presence of mind

Ambulance pilot Suresh and a male emergency medical technician helped a pregnant woman deliver a baby on board the ambulance. His colleague Adhi Seshan climbed a hill in Salem to rescue a boy who was severely injured after he fell on a wooden log that pierced his abdomen.

For pilots of 108 ambulances, each day brings a new challenge. May 26 however was a day to recognise their crucial role in saving lives as GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI), which operates the 108 ambulances, celebrated Pilots Day.

Timeliness and safe transportation of patients is vital for these pilots, not to forget presence of mind. Sivasamy, an ambulance pilot in Coimbatore, received a call at midnight about a person who had suffered a cardiac arrest.

“The caller was a girl studying in class VI. She said nobody was at home and her father had chest pain. They lived on Race Course Road. She could not provide us proper directions to the house. As we could not locate the house, we told the girl to wave her dupatta outside the window when she hears the ambulance siren,” he said.

Kumar, a pilot at Tiruchi, and a woman EMT were shocked after a distress call on a pregnancy complication took them to a house of a visually-challenged couple. The woman had delivered the baby in the bathroom an hour before. “We wrapped the baby in our apron and took the mother and child to the nearest PHC,” he recalled.

There are around 1,500 pilots in the State. “The number of emergency cases handled by 108 has increased from 62,000 to 70,000 a month in the last year. The pilots play an important role in this,” B.N. Sridhar, regional chief operating officer of GVK EMRI said.

They bridge the gap between people requiring medical help and the medical facility, M.S. Shanmugam, project director, Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project pointed out. “Often, the bridge is across rivers, areas without roads and even hills,” he added.

He said steps are being taken to strengthen the capacity of 108 ambulance services to save lives. B. Prabhudoss, head, Marketing and Hospital Relations, GVK EMRI, said in March alone, 19,850 pregnant women had utilised the ambulance service, while the monthly average was usually 17,000.

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