Taking a leaf out of cab aggregators who use GPS-based mobile apps to reach customers within just a few minutes, the Tamil Nadu government has installed an app-based system in its ambulances to keep response time short. Because in emergency situations, even a 10 to 12 minute delay in the arrival of ambulance may mean death!
The ‘108’ ambulance service will now have the app, which can track the accident spot in no time, helping reduce the average response time to three minutes, say Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project (TNHSP) officials.
The system works almost like the app-centered system that cab aggregators use. “The person on duty in the control room will relay the exact location (latitude and longitude) to the nearest ambulance drivers, even if the number from which the emergency call was made does not have high-speed internet connectivity,” a TNHSP official said. There are currently more than 100 ambulances in and around Chennai.
Most of the accident-related emergency calls received through the government’s 247 helplines were either during the early hours of the day or between 7pm and 9pm.
The control room’s task would be restricted to receiving calls and confirming the total number of ambulances to be dispatched based on preliminary information they have received over phone, he said.
Officials say nearly 70% of calls that 108 emergency services receive are ‘ineffective’ calls -meaning they are wrong, prank, disconnected, missed or no-response calls.
Only half the total calls received are emergency in nature. It has now been decided not to use ambulances in accident-prone zones for non-emergency cases during this time.
However, the need to finetune ambulance services was felt because hospitals in Chennai’s suburbs operate with skeletal staff on weekends, and there are not many health centres in these areas to stabil ise accident victims before staff refer them to the nearest tertiary care centre.
During a recent road safety review meeting, the state health department proposed to increase the number of Tamil Nadu Accident and Emergency Care Initiatives (TAEI) centres in the three districts -Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kanchepuram -to 65. Besides, a model TAEI hospital in Tambaram has also been set up.
A protocol-based trauma care has been made available at this centre and it works on the lines of similar facilities at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
These health centres will have trained staff and specialised equipment to handle road accident patients, TAEI officials say.
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