News : ‘108’ Ambulances to Get Street-smart
Bengaluru, India, March 28, 2016 -- Getting medical help may get faster with all the ambulances under the 108 Arogya Kavacha scheme set to become street-smart. All ambulances are expected to be equipped with the global positioning system (GPS) by this May, which is likely to advance the first response time by three to five minutes.
GVK EMRI, which runs the ambulance service, has seen GPS being installed in ambulances in other States such as Tamil Nadu.
Introduced in November 2008, there are 69 four-wheeler and 80 two-wheelers ambulances in Bengaluru, while the numbers are 711 four-wheeler and 32 two-wheeler ambulances in Karnataka. The vehicles were earlier fitted with the automatic vehicle location tracking system which has now worn out.
"At present, ambulances are assigned on a stationary basis. Their base location is identified and our call centre assigns the vehicle. However, with GPS, it will be easier to locate which ambulance is closest to the location," said S.S. Pervez, senior manager, GVK EMRI.
The big advantage that the GPS will bring is to save precious minutes during the golden hour. "Now, an ambulance takes about 14.5 to 15 minutes in urban centres, and 26 minutes in rural areas on an average to reach the spot of the incident. This will come down by three to five minutes," Mr. Pervez said.
With several private players offering GPS solutions for medical help, the government is, at present, involved in identifying the best provider, officials said, and added that the selection process would be done through a tender.
"GPS is being used in other vehicles, such as cabs as well. The challenge is to identify that unique solution that will be beneficial to us," officials added.
Health Minister U.T. Khader said the GPS installation was also aimed at streamlining the management of ambulances. "We will be able to know if the ambulance was taken to a private hospital bypassing a government hospital. We are also looking at monitoring fuel expenditure through the system, wherein the time and quantity of fuel filled will be communicated through the system," he added.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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