After dark, CATS offer excuses not ambulances
Govt-run service fails to send ventilator-fitted vehicles
Only seven of the 21 advanced life-support ambulances with Delhi government are deployed round the clock. And even these are not always available.
Calls made in the evening for these ‘advanced’ ambulances are often turned down due to unavailability of drivers or because the vehicles are under repair. Delhi Government has 35 ambulances under its Centralised Accident and Trauma Services (CATS).
Thirty-one of them were bought during the Commonwealth Games in 2010. Out of them 21 had facilities of advanced life-support (ALS) while 10 had basic life-support (BLS).
After the Games, 14 ALS were stationed at various hospitals and seven remained under direct control of CATS, with two ambulance officers, along with BLS ambulances.
The mandate for all ambulances is to work round the clock.
The Delhi government website also shows that ambulances are to function 24 hours from the base station.
However, due to shortage of staff, 14 ambulances stationed at hospitals – and managed by hospital staff – operate only from 8 am to 4 pm.
In a Right to Information reply, CATS informed that 14 ALS ambulances “operate from 8 am to 4 pm on all working days except Sundays.”
The reply claimed that the remaining seven advanced ambulances operate on 24X7 basis in three shifts. It also stated that life-saving ventilators are functional in all 21 advanced ambulances.
However, calls to the CATS helpline have failed those who needed help.
A 25-year-old patient died a month ago waiting for a ventilator-equipped ambulance to come to shift him from one hospital to another.
The ambulance that arrived after six hours did not have a working ventilator.
Deccan Herald made a call to CATS. The person who received it informed that no ambulance could be sent out as “some are not working while the others do not have drivers.”
Two more patients have made similar complaints in the past 15 days.
“The ambulances which are with the hospitals are run with the staff of the hospital and
their timings are set accordingly. The rest are to run 24X7. We have found glitches in this and more ambulances are being bought and staff recruited,” said Anshu Prakash, health secretary, Delhi Government.
However, hospitals complain about the arrangements.
“We do not have enough staff ourselves. If a doctor and a nurse are sent, then the hospital work suffers. Staff for managing CATS ambulances should be provided by the government instead of burdening the hospitals,” said an official at Aruna Asaf Ali government Hospital.