Live tracking of '108' ambulances through app proposed

At present, Karnataka has 711 Arogya Kavacha ambulances and 800 others are managed by individual government hospitals. DH File Photo

Soon, you can book a 108 Arogya Kavacha ambulance through a mobile phone application, just like you would for a cab. You will also be able to track the movement of the ambulance real-time.

The department of health and family welfare has proposed a new set of features that are aimed at redefining the function of ambulances in the city. Primary among them is a feature that will let live tracking of the ambulances.

Currently, the 108 ambulances are managed by GVK Hyderabad. With the contract period coming end, the department has proposed a new set of specifications to be met in the fresh bid.

The bidder will have to develop two separate applications for the department, through which an ambulance can be booked with the help of an app, live track its movement and also give the department feedback on the driver.

Dr Swathanthrakumar Banakar, Deputy Director and Nodal Officer, 108 EMRI said that the successful bidder should develop two apps within a period of three months.

Dr Banakar said that this move would help the department go paperless. In addition, the government will appoint a squad that will be responsible for the quality check.

Currently, the 108 ambulances take anywhere 20-30 minutes to reach a patient, he said adding, there was also a proposal to levy penalty on the company that takes up the contract if ambulances exceed the time duration. “We are proposing a fine of about Rs 1,000 for every minute of delay,” he said.

The department has also asked for a budgetary allocation of Rs 150 crore to add 300 more ambulances to 108 Arogya Kavacha fleet and replace the old ones.

Currently, the state has 711 Arogya Kavacha ambulances and 800 others are managed by individual government hospitals. As per official data, one ambulance is available for every 90,000-95,000 people in the state. With the addition of the new ambulances, this could be brought down to one ambulance per a population of 60,000.

Dr Banakar said that a monitoring system has also been proposed for the 800 ambulances that are not under ‘108’. “Right now, there is no mechanism to check whether these ambulances are working, where they are, whether they have drivers or whether they have fuel in them. We will have a district monitoring room that will have a team to track the ambulances. They will work 24x7 with a doctor along with five assistants,” Dr Banakar said.

In a reality check, officials of the health department found that a private ambulance provider demanded Rs 10,000 to shift a patient from Nimhans in Bengaluru to Mandya. Dr Banakar said, the proposed guidelines would not allow fleecing of common man.

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