As many as 350 to 400 patients, seeking the 108 ambulance service every day, go through a harrowing time as 90 out of 198 vehicles need to be replaced. Locals say they have to wait for days or make alternative arrangements to reach nearby hospitals. “We called the 102 ambulance service at 1.30 am on October 22, but there was no response. Then we called the 108 service thrice, but we were told that the ambulance had developed some fault,” said Falma Chauhan, a resident of Padara village, Throla panchayat, Kotkhai. “To our shock, the GVK-EMRO call center told us that there was no ambulance available in Kotkhai, Jubbal and Rohru. We went blank and had no idea how to rush our relative with severe labor pain to hospital,” she said. There are only three ambulances — one at Nerwa and two in Chopal. “A few days ago, an HRTC bus met with an accident near Khaddar, but there was no ambulance to rush the patients to hospital. A pregnant woman died from want of medical intervention,” said Narender Kumar, a local.
“The standard reply of the 108 service staff is — the ambulance has developed a snag,” said Santosh and Sanjay, locals. Falma Chauhan on Tuesday shot off a letter to Health Minister Vipin Parmar, highlighting the plight of locals. “Despite the government spending crores of rupees on the services, patients do not get ambulances on time,” she added. “About 30-35 ambulances develop fault every day,” said heath officials. GVK-EMRO company, which was awarded the contract in 2016 to run the 108 service for five years till 2020-21, blamed it on the “old vehicles”, saying 90 out of 198 vehicles have lived their life and covered more than 2.50 lakh km. “The vehicles are maintained or replaced by the state government and we are trying to provide good services to the people,” Abhishek Kumar, spokesperson for the company, said. Health Minister Vipin Parmar blamed the previous Congress government for not replacing the old vehicles. “We are getting 46 new vehicles and will replace the old ones in a phased manner,” he added. – Tribune India