Staff Reporter

Thiruvananthapuram: The ‘Dial 1298 for Ambulance’ service of the Mumbai-based Ambulance Access for All Foundation for Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Pathanamthitta districts was launched here on Monday.

Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran flagged off the 10 new advanced life-support ambulances to be used in the three districts.

The service will enable people to access emergency ambulance service round the clock by dialling 1298 from mobile or land phones. The foundation has been providing the service in Mumbai since 2005. The service was launched earlier this year in Ernakulam, Thrissur, Alappuzha and Kottayam districts.

“We have 51 ambulances covering Mumbai city. The difference between our service and other ambulance services is that we provide advanced life-supporting equipment and the service of trained paramedics. The technical support for our ambulance service has been provided by the London Ambulance Service,” said Sweta Mangal, chief executive officer of the service.

Thirty ambulances have been deployed in Kerala. The biggest speciality is that the service is free for accident and disaster victims. “Ours is a self-sustaining service. We charge a service fee from patients bound for private hospitals, while we provide the service at half the rate for those bound for government hospitals. However, irrespective of all this, we provide free service to accident and disaster victims and for BPL [below poverty line] patients,” Ms. Mangal said.

Life-saving equipment

Each ambulance has been equipped with sophisticated life-saving equipment, such as defibrillator, ECG, cardiac monitor, suction machine, ventilator, resuscitation kit, pulse oxymeter and oxygen cylinder. Services of an emergency medical technician and a male nurse will be available. The ambulance is equipped with Global Positioning System for real-time tracking by the ambulance control room at Mumbai, which attends the calls to the service number.

“Our control room has been equipped with computer-aided dispatch software and wireless radio trunking. We have now acquired a new emergency medical dispatcher software package known as ProQA, which has the facility to collect vital information from the caller,” Ms. Mangal said. The service provides basic life-support ambulances and services of more than 100 franchise ambulances in the State.

The charge for using the advanced life-support ambulance to a private hospital is Rs.1,500 and an additional Rs.20 a km after 10 km. The charge for using the basic life-support ambulance is Rs.350 and an additional Rs.7.5 a km after 10 km.

Ms. Mangal said the ‘Dial 1298 for Ambulance’ service would soon be launched on the highways of the State. The service has won many awards, such as the Godfrey Philips National Bravery Award for Social Act of Courage in 2007.

“We plan to launch our service in eight other Indian cities by 2013. The biggest plus point of our ambulance service is that we have a uniform access number, which will be the same throughout India. Also we want to change the concept of ambulance vans to life-saving vans,” she said.

Mayor C. Jayan Babu presided over the function.