Over half of '108' ambulances stay off roads as stir continues

Over half of '108' ambulances stay off roads as stir continues

As many as 48 ambulances, which are part of the ‘108’ Arogya Kavacha scheme, stayed off roads in Bengaluru on Thursday as drivers and paramedics of the government service went ahead with their strike.

Out of about 80 four-wheeler ambulances in Bengaluru, 48 were halted for want of drivers and paramedics while the rest were driven by BMTC and KSRTC drivers who were deployed by the department of health and family welfare late in the night on Wednesday.

While staff nurses from several 24-hour primary health centres and other hospitals were called for to be interim paramedics on wheels, sources in the department said many ambulances just saw the drivers on duty and no paramedics.

Dr N H Vijaya Mohan Reddy, district health officer, Bengaluru Urban, said that apart from the staff nurses from the health department, nurses had been called from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s hospitals too.

Shrishail Hallur, State president, 108 Ambulance Drivers’ Association, said that the protesting drivers and paramedics met Minister for Health and Family Welfare U T Khader on Thursday.

“We spoke to him about our concerns. We clarified that we were not protesting for money and that we did not wish to sign the undertaking. He asked us to give it in writing,” he added.

He said that the minister also told them that the government had done its bit by sanctioning Rs 6.5 crore towards appraisal and that it was their employer, GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute, which had to give its share.

Drivers also claimed that when they went to meet representatives of the GVK EMRI, they were handed over a different undertaking with an additional point apart from what was mentioned before.

“Now they have a new point which states that we will take the representatives of the company along while having discussions with the government and that we will not defame the company before the media,” Hallur added. 

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