As far as I understand, the ‘Platinum 10 Minutes’ clearly specify the importance of Emergency Care in the lives of patients or accident victims standing at the door of death. It is this “Just in time” pre-hospital care received by patients from a professional paramedic before reaching the nearest hospital, which increases the chance of survival. It is universally accepted across the healthcare industry to have saved lives and can do wonders with the proper Emergency Response System in place. This first aid is the reason why I think emergency ambulances and the paramedics operating them are need of the hour. Our government authorities, NGOs and various other emergency healthcare providers have well understood it. All of them have left no stone unturned in improving the ambulance facilities and accordingly categorised them – Cardiac Ambulance, Ventilator Ambulance, Mobile Medical Units, etc. – as per the requirements. We have not only van ambulances but also helicopter and boat ambulances now. The only focus here is to provide first aid and transport the patients to the nearest healthcare facility at the earliest by any means.
Although there have been advancements in Emergency Medical Services in India over some time, I feel it is still a fragmented system. One of the reasons for it is the different ambulance emergency numbers 102 & 108 operating for 22 different states and 02 union territories of the country. To further explain my point, it is vital to understand the difference between the two emergency numbers. First started in 2014 in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Emergency Number 102 is a free medical transport service and majorly facilitates 24×7 free services to pregnant women and newborn babies. Contrary to this, the Emergency Number 108 is for all kind of emergency medical services and not just emergencies under Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram and Janani Suraksha Yojana. The difference in functions of the emergency numbers here is minimal. Now the question is do we need different numbers for similar services. I feel the answer should be a big ‘NO’ and there should be a standard emergency care number to create a reliable emergency response system. My opinion comes from the inspiration of emergency systems in the rest of the countries. They have a single number for all types of emergency care. So, the idea of integrating them and its recent implementation in Madhya Pradesh and Odissa made me happy. It means we can call for an emergency ambulance from Ziqitza by dialling any of the two numbers (102/108) to get immediate care.
Integrating emergency care numbers is a significant step towards organising emergency services. This initiative is likely to improve the service as people may save on their time to figure out the relevant emergency number to reach for help. Also, absent-minded people like me who don’t remember multiple contact numbers can take a sigh of relief. You now have to remember a single number for any kind of emergency situation to call an ambulance. I am personally delighted with this move. And hope the government successfully integrate the emergency numbers 102 & 108 in other parts of the country too!
Author: Jitendra Sharma (108 Project Head M.P)