Contrary to apprehensions about the fate of ‘108' services of Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI) after the arrest of its founder B. Ramalinga Raju, the fleet of ambulances run by the institute has doubled over the last year. Against 1,300 vehicles in January last year, the institute, since rechristened as GVK EMRI following its tie-up with GVK Industries, now owns 2,600 vehicles. Their number in the State is 802, said the institute chief executive officer Venkat Changavalli. Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, he said all outstanding dues; including bank loans of Rs.40 crore have been cleared. The EMRI will extend its operations to Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh next month end after which the strength of ambulance fleet will go up to 3,000. Apart from AP, the institute presently has its presence in Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya. Maharashtra and some other States were likely to partner it after the court settled a dispute over selection of the institute without following the process of tendering, Mr. Venkat added.

Earlier, Principal Secretary of Medical, Health and Family Welfare P.V. Ramesh participated in a seminar to discuss the road map for putting in place protocols required to meet emergencies in government hospitals.

Mr. Venkat said the death of patients was ‘getting postponed' from ‘home to hospital' as they could reach hospitals well by ‘108' but died subsequently due to lack of doctors, equipment or emergency rooms. Suresh David, a professor at Christian Medical College, Vellore, described 108 as a leader in pre-hospital care.