The government will extend the 108 emergency ambulance service to all districts, in accordance with the National Ambulance Service guidelines and code.

Accordingly, new ambulances with Basic Life Support (BLS) will provide emergency services in all districts while the 43 ambulances with Advanced Life Support (ALS), currently providing 108 emergency ambulance service, will be redistributed among major government hospitals for inter-hospital patient transfers, State Mission Director of National Health Mission M. Beena, who is holding the charge of the managing director of Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd. (KMSCL), said on Friday.

Expressing dismay at the furore over the alleged ‘‘withdrawal of 108 ambulances from service,” senior health officials said the tender called by KMSCL was for extending the emergency ambulance service to all districts and that the original government order regarding the launch of the ambulance service itself had specified that the government intended to buy BLS ambulances.

As per the National Ambulance Service guidelines, BLS ambulances should be used for emergency medical response and accordingly, the initial proposal before the State government to acquire more ALS ambulances had to be reversed, officials said.

Four types

The National Ambulance Code classifies road ambulances into four types (A, B, C & D), that is First Responder, Patient Transport, Basic Life Support and Advanced Life Support respectively. So far, no guidelines were available for floating tenders.

BLS ambulances have all facilities that ALS ambulances have, except for defibrillator and intubatory ventilation support, both of which are not being used, as these have to be done under medical supervision. BLS ambulances have ventilator support for patients.

Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan had demanded that tenders be called for ALS ambulances in all districts.

He had alleged that the move to purchase BLS ambulances is to help private ambulance services.“We have only followed the norms issued by the Union government which specifies a fixed number of ALS and BLS ambulances in proportion to the population in calling tenders. Any deficiencies in tender processes will be rectified,” a clarification by the Health Minister said.

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