The National Ambulance Service, popularly known as 108 (earlier during BJP regime known as 108 Atal Swasthya Sewa), has come up as a big revolution in Emergency Healthcare Management in Himachal Pradesh where adverse topographical conditions have always remained a big challenge for providing timely medical aid to the sick or injured people. The fleet of 172 ambulances being operated in the State with facility of life saving equipments and trained staff for affectionate emergency care has come as a big respite to the people who, on just one telephone call, can avail this facility round the clock, 365 days– free of cost within few minutes.
The ambulance service caters to any emergency related to Medical, Police and Fire all over the State. Keeping in view the significant impact of the scheme in saving invaluable lives, the State Government recently added 60 more ambulances to the existing fleet of 112 ambulances, taking the total to 172.
The National Ambulance Service has so far handled 3,25,178 emergencies in the State which includes 10,840 Police and 2,555 Fire Emergencies, 16,230 Vehicular Trauma cases, 13,537 Cardiac related cases and 16350 Respiratory Distress related cases. 2,353 successful deliveries have been conducted in the affectionate care of 108 National Ambulance Service Emergency Medical Technicians. The service has also resulted in timely admission of 55,790 pregnant women in hospitals which has helped in reducing the IMR and MMR in the state.
The service is being relied upon by lakhs during emergency situations and every time it has succeeded in its mission of saving lives. It has not only brought relief to the distressed emergency victims but has also succeeded in spreading smiles. The service has handled such critical cases where a loss of single second lost would have resulted into the loss of a precious human life. This service has saved invaluable 6,708 precious lives in life-threatening situations in Himachal Pradesh.
The process of handling the Emergency starts from the Emergency Management Centre located in Solan, HP, where all calls are received by an Emergency Response Officer. After taking the various details of the Emergency such as Type of Emergency , City / Village where the patient is presently available , whether any additional assistance of Police or Fire is required, the ERO contacts the nearest appropriate ambulance and dispatches the Ambulance at the scene of distress. In case additional assistance of Police or Fire is required, the nearest Police Station or Fire Station is contacted and the help is dispatched promptly with the assistance of a Police Dispatch Officer who is present 24 X 7 in the Emergency Management Centre, Solan.
All the Emergency Medical Technicians ( EMT) engaged at the 108 NAS ambulance undergo an extensive specialized training to ensure optimal, affectionate and timely Pre Hospital Care. Refresher trainings are carried out for all EMTs every 6 months to update their knowledge and keep them abreast with new developments in the medical field. The driver, called pilot, is also trained to handle emergencies and assist the EMT in Multiple Casualty Incidents. In the 172 Ambulances, 378 EMTs and 370 Pilots are engaged in this Life Saving work and besides the Life Saving Work, National Ambulance Service has been able to provide employment to around 828 Himachali Youth.
The ambulances have on board life saving equipment like Automatic External Defibrillators, Pulse Oxymeter, Oxygen Supply, Nebulizers, Suction Machine, Glucometer, Electronic Blood Pressure Monitor, Four types of Stretchers, Splints, Extraction kit, Live Saving Medicines and IV fluids. 25 ambulances have additional advanced life support equipment like Multi-Para monitor. The NAS ambulances are equipped to handle 42 types of emergencies and all are equipped with GPS (Global Positioning System).
On an average, 3200 calls are received everyday at the 108 Emergency Management Centre out of which 98% of the calls are handled within the first ring and an ambulance is dispatched in emergency in 3.5 minutes. Every emergency case is then followed up after 48 hours to take a feedback on the health of the patient and if any improvement is desired in the service. The latest increase in number of ambulances will improve the present response time of 19 minutes in urban areas and 39 minutes in rural areas and will further ensure that the service is available at the earliest to the citizens of Himachal Pradesh.
The latest initiatives to improve the service include ERO merger where a single associate receives the call and dispatches the ambulance, Identifying hot spots to reduce Response Time and Vehicle Busy and an Online Fleet Management System to maintain and record key parameters like breakdown, tyre / battery records and R&M Expense to improve the overall efficiency of Operations of National Ambulance Service.
The credit of the success of the service goes to Government of Himachal Pradesh for the continuous guidance for operating the service and effective program implementation by NRHM and the employees who are working with full dedication for the service.