Srinagar, Dec 28: Government is set to procure sixty critical care ambulances for augmenting the emergency and critical care services across the peripheries in J&K. However, experts say the “shortfall of adequate and trained staff in this respect” must be addressed first.
J&K has received approval from the World Bank for its Rs 367 crore funding proposal to strengthen the healthcare system with a focus on emergency and critical care. Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo, said that part of the WB funding will be utilized to procure 60 critical care ambulances that would add to the existing fleet of 140 ambulances running under 108-Ambulance Service.
He said that the department was taking measures to ensure that the emergency and critical care facilities were augmented at the peripheral level in addition to making the transit of patients to a referral center safer.
“The ambulance service that we started last year under 108 is not just a transport service from one hospital to another. We have been working hard, even during the pandemic, to make these fully equipped to help save lives,” he said.
However, many doctors working across the peripheral areas have expressed the need for augmenting the manpower trained to provide basic as well as advanced life support to make these ambulances “useful”.
“Without trained staff, no matter how advanced an ambulance is, it will remain a mere transport vehicle,” a senior surgeon working in a south Kashmir hospital wishing anonymity said.
He said many times, especially for people suffering an accident, stroke or heart attack, the technician that accompanies the victim is unaware of the protocols to be followed in case of an adverse event. “Only recently, we had a road accident case who we thought would easily make it to SMHS hospital but expired on the way due to hypovolemic shock,” he said.
“There was a lot that could have been done but for that we needed a skilful person to be taking care of the patient,” he said.
He said that training in emergency medicine and building basic and advanced life support skills across the board in the health department was need of the hour. “We may be competing with the advanced countries and place orders for the most sophisticated equipment but at the end of the day, we need people to run these and make a difference,” he said.
Bhupinder Kumar, Mission Director, National Health Mission, the overarching agency for 108-Ambulance Service, said that the 60 new ambulances will be run with trained manpower recruited through the mission. “NHM has been pivotal in chipping in manpower and other resources wherever there is a need in the health sector,” he said adding that currently 152 Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) are working in J&K. “We have 76 Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances in the fleet of 140 and each of these has two technicians,” he said. He said the ambulances were running 24 x 7. “108 service and these ambulances have changed the scene of patient transport,” he said. (Greater Kashmir)