Low awareness levels and nuisance calls are the greatest challenges

With accessibility to affordable healthcare still being a challenge, the State-run 108 Arogya Kavacha emergency response service is doing its best to take the needy to hospitals within minutes of receiving a call. But the onus is on the people to dial 108 as soon as they sense an emergency and not many are aware of this.

Started in November 2008, this emergency service run by the State government in association with GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI), has so far saved 61,961 lives. While the service has been able to attend to 19.5 lakh emergencies, 26,359 babies have been delivered. These include the delivery of 13,121 babies in the ambulance.

However, most of these emergencies are from rural areas as awareness about the service is very low among those in urban areas, according to officials from the service.

“Our greatest challenges are poor awareness levels about the service among people and a large number of nuisance calls that we get every day. Of the 20,000 calls received every day, nearly 35 per cent are nuisance calls. We are now warning the callers of action if they repeat the nuisance call,” Jagadish P Patil, Head of Operations, GVK EMRI, told The Hindu on Monday.

Of the total 19.5 lakh medical emergencies attended to, 8,41,072 calls were pregnancy-related. This is the highest number pertaining to a single medical emergency.

The service that operates round the clock all through the year has a fleet of 517 well-equipped ambulances. These vehicles are manned by an emergency medicine trained personnel (EMT) and first responder trained driver (Pilot). This service is available across the State.

More vehicles

“We are planning to add 180 new ambulances to the existing fleet. Of these, 30 vehicles will be back-up vehicles to be used in times when any vehicles are sent for repairs,” Mr. Patil said.

The services can be used for cardiac problems, respiratory problems, diabetes, pregnancy related emergencies, stroke/convulsions, suicide attempts, poisoning cases, assault/violence, animal attacks, neonatal emergencies, building collapse, fire, burns and hazardous material ingestion.

Apart from this, individuals can also call 108 for police related cases such as accidents, assault, violence, robbery in progress, gambling, property offences, self inflicted injuries and threatening cases.