Anima Balakrishnan

FaceofCoimbatore It is difficult to access ambulance service in case of an emergency

Coimbatore: There is no dearth of medical institutions in Coimbatore. With most hospitals having their own ambulance services, there are enough emergency vehicles the city.

But despite the availability of these services, citizens are at a loss when it comes to handling personal emergencies. In case of road accidents most tend to dial 100 and call the police. And there are ambulances deployed on highways to serve as mobile emergency medical units.

But since there is no common number linking all the ambulance services, people are at sea when an emergency arises and have to reach a particular hospital. It especially applies to medical emergencies at home.

Unlike most cities that have a simple number exclusively for ambulance, Coimbatore has only 101 for Fire and Rescue Services. The department has only one ambulance at its disposal. In the event of a road accident or personal medical emergency, the facility can be availed of and one will be taken to the hospital of your choice. But, if a fire breaks out at the same time it will be the priority.

"There is no centralised ambulance service place in Coimbatore," says K. Raghu, haematologist and Honorary Technical Director of the Indian Medical Association Blood Bank. "There is a need for certain neutral agencies to play a role in coordinating the services which will allow people to get to the hospital of their choice," he adds. Though the Indian Red Cross Society had taken an initiative to coordinate the ambulance services, the system could not be sustained for long.

Some hospitals have a toll-free emergency hotline, but on getting such services, the patient would be taken to the hospital to which the ambulance belongs to and not to the one of their choice.

There is consensus on invoking emergency access number 102 (commonly used for ambulatory services) and making it the effective coordinating agency under which all registered ambulances would be connected to provide immediate medical relief.

The stress is on regularly auditing the manning agency.

"If 102 concept is introduced, it has to be ensured that it is a service aimed at helping people in the hour of need," says T.P. Kalaniti, Dean, Coimbatore Medical College.

This ambulance service should be free of cost and should take the patient to the hospital of their choice, he says.