News : Health Depts Ambitious 108 Helpline Project Stalled
Srinagar, India, Jan 24, 2015 -- Despite Jammu & Kashmir being an accident-prone region and road mishaps being a daily occurrence here, there has been no headway in the state health department’s ambitious project of the 108 emergency helpline service.
The Center has reportedly put down the State proposal of starting the emergency helpline service in J&K saying abundant funds had already been given to the state for procurement of ambulances.
Highly placed sources told the Kashmir Monitor the state was near finalization of the 108-helpline service when the center government refused to provide any more funds to the health department for kick- starting the project.
"A proposal for the helpline project was submitted to the center some two years back but the same was rejected saying much funds had already been given to the state over the years for procurement of ambulances," a senior official in the department, who wished not to be named, said.
108 Emergency Response Service is a free emergency service providing integrated medical, police and fire emergency services and was first started in Andhra Pradesh. Under the 108 services, an ambulance has to quickly reach the emergency site and provide pre-hospital care to the victims before rushing them to the nearest hospital within 30 minutes.
The 108-helpline project which has been running successfully in other states of India would require the health department to setup a centralized call center and obtain advanced care ambulances for immediate patient care. While the state already has about 400 ambulances at different hospitals, experts say they can at best be only termed as patient carriers.
"The ambulances running in the state at present lack the required equipment and can only be called transport services. The state would require to establish or recruit separate qualified staff for the critical care or advanced care ambulances which the department lacks at present," a senior doctor told the Kashmir Monitor.
The state was reportedly asked by center to setup 102-helpline system upon rejection of the 108-helpline proposal but medicos say the 102 helpline only caters to maternity and childcare patients for which funds are itself allocated by center. "102 helpline in no way can be compared to the 108 service which has been saving numerous lives outside the state," the doctor said adding there has been little public response to the 102 helpline.
Sources said the health department has reframed the proposal and re-submitted it to center for approval. Despite repeated attempts senior officials of the department could not be contacted.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About 108 Ambulance Services:
108 is a free telephone number for emergency services in India, currently operational in 17 States ( Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh) and two Union Territories (Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu.) The 108 Emergency Response Service is a free emergency service providing integrated medical, police and fire emergency services. The service is a public-private partnership between state governments and private EMS providers. 108 was introduced by Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana for the first time in India. 108 is also functional in Punjab Odisha, Maharashtra, Bihar Kerala. Till November 2014 this service handled 5.4 lakh emergency cases in India.
Published: Tuesday, January 27, 2015