In a major step which would provide succor to the patients requiring immediate medical help, the Uttarakhand government has decided to start air ambulance facility. These air ambulances would start ferrying patients from January 26. The chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said that at present this facility is being provided by the government with the help of some companies. But from January 26 onwards, the dedicated air ambulance facility would be launched which would help people living in the far- flung areas. CM also declared that the process of replacing the fleet of the 108 emergency ambulance service is in progress. He said that the state government has decided to replace all 139 ambulances of the 108 services. “We have already provided 61 new ambulances to the 108 service and have cleared purchase of 50 more vehicles. Gradually the entire fleet of the ambulances would be replaced,’’ he said.
The declarations of CM on air ambulance service and replacing the entire fleet of the 108 ambulance services has assumed significance as in the absence of transport facility, a large number of patients, especially those from the in mountainous areas of the state, face problems. It is a common observation that many patients die midway before they reach the hospital they are headed. The problem of ageing vehicles has been compounding the problems the 108 emergency ambulance services has been facing for quite some time now. Launched in 2008, the 108 services is a vital cog in providing emergency care in all the parts of the state. The services are also catering to important task of transporting pregnant women for safe deliveries in the hospital. The 108 ambulance service has a fleet of 139 ambulances and apart from these vehicles, the service also operates a boat ambulance in Tehri lake.
These new ambulances are expected to infuse a new lease of life into the fleet of the 108 service as most of the vehicles in the fleet are old and at least 75 percent of the fleet needs immediate replacement. The World Health Organization (WHO) mandates that the ambulances should be replaced after three years or they cover 1.5 lakh kilometers whichever occurs first. Interestingly, all the ambulances of the emergency 108 services have surpassed both these parameters. Ninety ambulances of the 108 service were purchased in 2008 while 18 and 32 more ambulances were purchased in the years between 2010 and 2011. Almost all vehicles of the service have covered a distance of more than three lakh kilometers. – Daily Pioneer