No basic life support in 540 ambulances
The emergency medical services across Kashmir hospitals have been hit due to shortage of critical care ambulances (CCAs).
For ten districts in the valley, there are only 12 critical care ambulances of which three were given to the government by an NGO three years ago.
“The critical care ambulance are of two types—Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Life Support (ALS). There is no BLS ambulance with the Directorate,” said an official posted at Directorate of Health Services Kashmir (DHSK).
Shopian and Ganderbal districts have faced neglect and have no CCAs highlighting the apathetic approach of health authorities over the years.
As per norms, a critical care ambulance should be manned by a highly trained ENT technician or a doctor, but their numbers are inadequate in Valley.
At present, there are 540 ambulances deployed across different health institutions in the valley but these lack basic life support equipment such as oxygen cylinders, emergency drugs and trained paramedics.
“All these ambulances are just for patient transport. These lack basic life support putting patients at risk, “said a health department official.
Despite state being prone to road accidents and natural calamities, the procurement of well-equipped BLS ambulances has not received government attention.
A health department official said that Kashmir has worst ambulances management system. The state is also not connected with the national emergency helpline (108) due to lack of which pre-hospital care is also in disarray, leaving critical patients at high risks while they are ferried to tertiary care hospitals. “The 108 helpline, a free helpline for emergency services in 21 states providing integrated medical, police and fire emergency services is non-existent in J&K,” said an official.
The emergency medical services have never remained a priority for the successive governments rather ill-equipped referral vans are being used for the job.
Principal Secretary Health and Medical Education (H&ME) department Atal Dulloo told Rising Kashmir that the “long pending issue would be resolved.”
“Once 102 and 108 helpline service is approved the issue will be resolved. Tenders in this regard have been finalized. We are waiting for the approval from the Government of India,” he said.
Dulloo said that in a span of three-four months 400 ALS and BLS as well as GPS-enable ambulances will be provided to the hospitals.