On several busy roads like M G Road, Bannergatta road, silk board, majestic, Malleswaram , Bellandur, jayanagar-almost all major junctions in Bangalore where private vehicles struggle to overtake or go fast comes to a sudden halt because of loud siren from behind. Yes, its a vehicle with a glittering red / blue cap on it. The situation worsens when all the vehicles including ambulance get stuck in a major signal. If one wants to give way to the ambulance also, feels helpless at this point. During festival time, where pedestrians are huge in numbers, on road also becomes problematic. Is road a safe transport for patients who are carried on ambulance? Well, may be for some. But what about the critical patients who need medical assistance within say, 15-20 minutes? Road accidents(factory accidents), heart attacks, complicated pregnancies, burns, coma patients, dehydration, surgical emergencies, pediatric emergencies are some examples.
In the year 2014, Karnataka health minister U T Khader had introduced two wheeler ambulance where the trained paramedic driver will reach the accident spot in 10 minutes for medical assistance till the four wheeler ambulance makes its way. The initiative was implemented through the organisation that runs 108- Arogya Kavacha ambulance service, GVK-EMRI. 30 bike ambulances were launched out of which 21 bikes will be stationed in strategic locations and one each in districts of Mysuru, Dharwad-Hubballi, Tumkuru;etc. The government has spent around 2 lakhs on each bike ambulances which carry 40 medical items which includes stethoscope, pulse oxymeter, bandages and 4 normal salone apart from 53 basic drugs. The same health department is working on introducing air ambulance in the state.
The 108 service has assisted 29.4 lakh people in many health emergencies by placing 517 ambulances strategically armed with all medical equipment and life-support medicines.
The traffic police on field comes into picture for coordination. Whenever there is a traffic jam, Emergency management and research institute (EMRI-GVK) gives alert for clearing traffic on a particular stretch.
Even after establishing health care support, we continue to see unfortunate instances on roads where people lose there lives. People lose lives either on their way to hospital or on road itself. In my opinion 70% of lives can be saved by ambulance where time is not an issue if the ambulance is equipped with necessary equipments. 20% of the lives can be a cause of concern where ambulance assistance is not enough and time is a major constraint. 10% of the cases can be deadly where chances of survival are very low even if the patient is taken to hospital in time. Recent example of Mr. Harish who lost his life after his body was cut into two pieces after a truck hit his motorcycle. Ambulance had reached the spot within 7-8 minutes from the time accident was reported.
Can air ambulance be an answer for critical patients who need immediate medical care? How the city will look like? How many helipads are required for hospitals and residential areas? Will Government give permission to residential areas for having helipads? What will be the cost of air ambulance and aviation fuel? Affordable? How government hospitals deal with this change? These are some important questions which need to be answered.
Sources reveal, the price of jet fuel as of January 2015 is 170.8 cents(US dollars) per gallon which is 11,459 in Indian rupees for 3.78 liters. At present hospitals like Manipal, Apollo, fortis are having air ambulance facility. In the year 2007, AIIMs hospital planned to have air ambulance facility but no further information is available on its current status.
Hospitals with this facility have emergency numbers on their respective websites. Sources say that there are three points in Bengaluru with air ambulance facility. They are Medivic aviation air ambulance in Malleswaram, Air ambulance in Electronic city phase-2 and air ambulance aviation in Hulimavu, Bannergatta road.
Critical patients should get this air ambulance facility. Hospitals used to charge around 10K per service 4-5 years back. Provision should be done where patients are carried from a place where air ambulance can land, say, open space or helipads on major apartments which have strong foundation. Government hospitals can take help of state government with regards to air ambulance simultaneously working with few major private hospitals. There are few companies in Bengaluru as well who volunteer themselves for air ambulance facility.
Keeping four wheeler ambulance in mind, each one has to be equipped with the ICU facilities, same as hospital, with a designated doctor and nurse with basic medicines to save lives. As of now bike ambulances are not seen, but if they are there ,they have to work in tandem with the four wheel’d ambulance. It would be good to have ambulance equipped with controls that allow them to manipulate signals to allow easier movement for them on the road.
After all life is everything in front of luxury and money. If government comes out with air ambulance solution in future, you have life, you have world.
-Lakshmi Raghavan (MA-PP)