To serve isolated areas abutting lakes and waterways
The State government will soon introduce “boat ambulances” to extend emergency medical care to the large section of people living in relatively isolated areas abutting the State's maze of lagoons, lakes, and inland waterways.
Official sources say the project funded by the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) will be initially implemented in Alappuzha district, where a considerable section of the population inhabit areas, including islets, without easy road access.
Initially, five specially designed speedboats equipped with advanced life-support equipment (chiefly defibrillators to revive heart attack victims, devices to aid breathing, and life-saving drugs) will be deployed.
Trained male nurses and emergency medical-care technicians will man the “water ambulances.”
The boats will be fitted with blue flashing lights, sirens and, possibly, a two-way radio to communicate while they traverse far-flung localities without mobile-phone coverage. They will have the Kerala Emergency Medical Service Project's (KEMP) toll-free telephone number 108 painted prominently on either side of its hull.
The boats will be equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking equipment for KEMP controllers to plot their position and course in real time on a digital map of the district.
They will be equipped with “foetal monitors” to aid pregnant women and “auto-loading stretchers” and “spine boards” to transport injured persons without inducing further trauma.
The State has over 900 km of inland waterways.
The government is likely to introduce boat ambulances in other regions with similar geography if the Alappuzha project benefits the local populace.
The ‘108' road service, with its 25 advance life-support ambulances, has been operational in Thiruvananthapuram district since May 2010. The service has since attended more than 28,000 distress calls and helped save hundreds of lives.
More than 10,000 of the distress calls it received were related to road accidents, followed by heart attacks (3,906), unconsciousness (2,793), respiratory problems (2,336), pregnancy (979), poisoning (764), fever (677), high blood pressure (628), stroke (490), diabetes (393), and burns (160).