An ambulance negotiating its way through traffic is, unfortunately, a scenario that one is too familiar with. For want of proper treatment at the right time, precious lives are lost. Though the emergency healthcare services in the City have grown, good is just not good enough and there are miles to go.
“Emergency services have improved considerably in the last five years,” informs Dr S Venkatesh, consultant cardiologist, Fortis Hospitals. “But it’s nowhere near developed countries. The number of ambulances is less and the sector is unorganised. Traffic snarls and reaching remote locations are big challenges,” he says.
He, however, points out, while 108 ambulances are doing a great job, most ambulances do not have trained paramedical staff and monitoring systems. “There aren’t enough cardiac ambulances, with qualified doctors, ventilator and monitoring facilities. Even the ambulance driver is trained to give first-aid and CPR in a cardiac ambulance,” he informs.
Dr H Sudarshan Ballal, medical director, Manipal Hospitals, feels the transportation of the patient leaves much to be desired.
“Though 108 is doing a good job, there is no standardisation of ambulances and some are just a mode of transport. The absence of free ways is another hurdle. We are working with voluntary organisations and the police towards this. Also, people should make way for ambulances, unlike what happened during the Carlton fire mishap,” he says.
It goes without saying that the ‘Golden Hour’ can be life changing. “Hence treatment should begin right at the spot,” educates Dr N K Venkataramana, vice-chairman, BGS Global Hospitals. “Above all, prevention is important. We need to have good roads and better enforcement of law,” he says.
There are ambulances plying all across the City but how equipped are these? Dr Arvind Kasaragod, chief of medical services, Columbia Asia, says, “The ambulances have increased. But I am not sure whether it has translated to care. Apart from other facilities, the paramedical staff in the ambulance must have real-time communication with hospital. One can also have two-wheelers with a medical person arriving at the spot before the ambulance does. There must be Automated External Defibrillator facilities in malls and airports. Periodic training has to be given to paramedics. But there’s more to be done.”
The trained paramedical staff in the country is very less and there is no structured
programme. “With trained nurses seeking jobs abroad, the situation is bad,” Dr Venkatesh informs.
As far as cardiac emergencies are concerned, he says, “The ambulance driver should know which hospital to go to. Time is the mantra. There should be a network, wherein the receiving hospital is identified. Doctors and nurses must be ready there to receive the patient.”
Paramedical staff, under the direction of doctors, does most of the emergency work in the West.
Dr Ballal also points out the need for resuscitation facilities in malls, courses for people and police in providing life support. “We need to have a complete plan, not an ad hoc one. Ambulances need to be prioritised just as VIP movement. Unfortunately, running ambulances too is turning into a business,” adds Dr Venkataramana. Dr Mabel Vasnaik, HOD, Adult Accident and Emergency, Manipal Hospitals, remembers how 15 years ago, there were no ambulance services in the City.
“We’ve come a long way. Earlier, emergency departments were run by junior doctors till they got PG seats. Gradually, things have changed. Emergency medicine has now been recognised as a separate speciality by the Medical Council of India,” she says.
“But paramedical staff needs more training. And with the ‘Good Samaritan Act’, the public should not hesitate from helping the injured,” she sums up.