Madurai

‘108’ ambulances attended to 97,000 cases during lockdown

The ‘108’ ambulance service has served over 97,000 cases in Madurai, Theni and Dindigul districts from January to December last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, reveals data obtained from GVK EMRI, which operates ‘108’ ambulance service in collaboration with Tamil Nadu Health Department. Among them, the cases attended to in Madurai are the highest - 39,455.

V. Vimal Raj, programme manager, GVK- EMRI, said there was a fall in the number of road accident cases attended to during the COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown when compared to the corresponding period in the previous years. These ambulances played a pivotal role in transporting COVID-19 positive patients from their residences to hospitals.

Irulandi, a member of ‘108 Ambulances Employees Association,’ said that most drivers and technicians continued to discharge their duty braving the fear of the spread of COVID-19. “Though initially we were sceptical about attending to COVID-19 positive patients, we realised we have to do it as a service to the public. The main advantage was that since the roads were free of vehicles during the lockdown, we could move fast,” he said.

Mr. Vimal Raj said that additional ‘108’ ambulances were deployed in the three districts to handle the rising number of COVID-19 cases. “During this period, we even handled patients from private hospitals,” he said.

A technician working in an ‘108’ ambulance said the drivers and technicians had to constantly protest to ensure that PPE kits and face masks were provided for those who were deployed in the ‘COVID-19 duty.’

The data showed that the highest number of cases attended to by the ‘108’ ambulances in 2020 were cases other than road accidents, COVID-19 and pregnancy-related cases. “Since there was a restriction in movement of public transport, ambulances were used to transport patients suffering from fever, diabetes, breathlessness, hypertension and other ailments to hospitals,” he said.

Pregnant women formed the most number of patients handled by the ambulances during this period. As many as 94 deliveries were conducted in the ambulance itself in the three districts in 2020. “It was ensured that ante-natal mothers were served even when COVID-19 cases were rising,” said Mr. Vimal Raj.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 12:26:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/108-ambulances-attended-to-97000-cases-during-lockdown/article33678419.ece

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