By Sumiya Shah
SRINAGAR: Two years after the state government announced the launch of helpline numbers for calling an ambulance, the facility is not available anywhere on the ground.
The then health minister Sham Lal Sharma stated in the legislative assembly on March 15, 2015 that the state had procured 179 ambulances under National Rural Health Mission, of which 50 ambulances are to be deployed along the highway for ambulance service available on helpline numbers 104 and 108.
Through the numbers, 102, 104 and 108 people were supposed to call for ambulances in case of an emergency, especially on the highway prone to traffic accidents.
“In a road accident or in any emergency case, we need an ambulance service for the patient but we cannot contact with them. The automated reply says the numbers are non-existent,” Nazir Ahmad Bhat, an attendant of a patient injured in a road traffic accident, said.
This initiative was meant to deal with the problem of patients reaching a health facility late.
“This initiative could fulfill the need of medical aid reaching to the people within the golden hour, where the chances of saving a life are manifold. This integrated ambulance service will aim at improving overall operational efficiency and cost effectiveness,” an official in health department said.
Mission Director NRHM, Dr Mohan Singh told Kashmir Reader that 102 helpline service number was functional in Jammu.
“I don’t know the reason, why the facility is not functional in Kashmir” he said.
However, Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr Salim-ur- Rehman said the number was not functional in Jammu either. “Earlier 102, 104 and 108 ambulance helpline service was introduced but that didn’t work as the vehicles weren’t found fit for the service,” Dr Rehman said. “Now we are going to introduce 100 ambulances with new helpline number, which is right now under process. Until this number doesn’t work scientifically we won’t make it public,” Dr Rehman added.