The condition of almost all the ambulances running in Punjab under National Health Mission has become vulnerable. S Mukherjee project head Punjab for Ambulance 108 said that the department was facing a hard time as the ambulances allocated to the department were outdated. “As of now, there are around 242 ambulances and around ₹20 lakh is required for each ambulance. Almost all of them have exceeded their lifespan of 3 lakh km. Many of them have even exceeded 5 lakh km. The government is only providing operational expenses,” Mukherjee said. It was learnt that Punjab government will have to bear 80 percent expense for the new vans – 20 percent will be borne by the Center. “We have already written to the state government in this regard and are hopeful that funds for new vans will be released soon,” he added.
According to the guidelines provided by National Health Mission (NHM), the ambulances need to be changed after every 3 lakh km. There are over 900 employees that run the entire network of Ambulance-108 in the state. This includes drivers, emergency medical technician, back office staff and call center employees. “The stretchers in our ambulances are local and old. Some of the vans do not even have them,” Mukherjee said. Recently, a pregnant woman had to give birth to a child at the gate of a government hospital in Patiala. It was learnt that the ambulance in which she reached the hospital did not have a stretcher. Even the hospital authorities failed to provide the woman with a spare stretcher. – TOI