Some gated communities in Chennai are offering space for ambulances to be parked within their gates. It is an arrangement that benefits not only residents of the gated community, but of the neighbourhood. The initiative is noteworthy as parking is a major issue for ambulances.
In February this year, Rela Hospital officially opened its healthcare facility on the campus of Hiranandani Parks in Oragadam, which is a 30-bed hospital with 24x7 laboratory, diagnostic centre, pharmacy, a dedicated team of doctors and nurses and an advanced life support service ambulance.
Three drivers and three emergency technicians are housed at the community to offer ambulance service round-the-clock.
The health care facility has an understanding with the gated community that whenever necessary, the ambulance will be pressed into service for the benefit of people outside the community.
“An ambulance is meant to make an emergency situation manageable, and so we extend this service to neighbourhoods within a five-to-seven kilometre radius from the community, including industries,” says a senior associate with the hospital.
The associate says that on an average, every day, four to five requests for ambulance are received at the central call centre of the hospital and these include people requiring dialysis and sample collection.
Besides, the hospital has more than 20 outpatient visits on any given day, which include those from surrounding villages and industries.
Rela Hospital has a similar model at another gated community, Jains Alpine Meadows, near Thiruneermalai.
At Taisha, a gated community in Virugambakkam, an ambulance driver offering his vehicle for SIMS Hospital, rattles off from a list of emergency cases where he offered assistance. In one case, a senior citizen who had a cardiac arrest in the wee hours of the morning, was rushed to the hospital as the ambulance was just a call away – parked at the entrance of the community. The service is extended to neighbourhoods around the community.
At the Metrozone in Anna Nagar, the residents’ welfare association has made a special provision for parking an ambulance run by Apollo Hospitals, near the entrance-gates of the society. Similarly, Chitlapakkam Muthulakshmi Nagar Welfare Association has impressed upon Gleneagles Global Hospitals, with which it has a tie-up, to station an ambulance on the main road.
While healthcare providers are more than happy to have their ambulances parked at gated communities, currently such an arrangement is made mainly where an on-site medical centre is located.
A gated community on Rajiv Gandhi Salai had the option of offering space to an ambulance service provider. It however did not opt for it, factoring in challenges relating to logistics. Besides, the community found ambulances parked at close distances from its society.
When post offices offered the space
In 2015, the Department of Posts had thrown an invitation to private and government health care providers that run emergency vehicles to use its office spaces to park ambulances. Apart from helping these vehicles reach their destinations quicker, the initiative was aimed at better utilising the vacant spaces in some of the post offices. Today, most of the post offices do not seem to be offering space for ambulances to be parked. The post office at Anna Nagar West was part of this arrangement and The Hindu Downtown had also carried a report and a picture of an ambulance occupying space at this facility. When contacted, an official from the post office said they do not extend such services any more and the space has been converted into a shed to stock some of the materials of the post office.
A senior official also said the arrangement no longer exists but if they were to get a special request then they would consider restoring it.
Sharing space with service providers
When utility service providers share space with communities, the benefits are enjoyed by both. For many years, a fire station was functioning from the premises of Annai Indira Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association in Velachery. As the department was struggling to find space for such services to cater to the needs of a growing neighbourhood, the Association offered space to house a fire engine.
At Iyyappanthangal, Tangedco shares space with Prestige Bella Vista, a huge gated community. The Tangedco facility started out as a small unit more than seven years ago to cater to the needs of the gated community, and it grew bigger to become a full-fledged substation that functions round-the-clock. There is a 15-member team taking care of the facility. A staff at the facility says the 33/11 KV facility caters to areas within a distance of one-and-a-half kilometres, starting from Sri Ramachandra Hospital in Porur. The staff says the department has a similar facility at another apartment near Porur.