The launch of ‘108’ emergency ambulance service in the state this year in January has contributed in reducing maternal and infant mortality to a certain extent. In a short span of six months since the service took off, a total of 501 deliveries have taken place outside hospitals, with the sole assistance of the 108 emergency ambulance staff.
The ‘108’ toll-free helpline number has received 17,947 calls related to maternity and labour till July 31. While of the 501 deliveries, 150 deliveries took place inside the ambulance before the hospital could be reached, the remaining deliveries had to be carried out on the spot, even before the expecting mother could be carried into the ambulance.
Dr Sanjay Gawande, ‘108’ ambulance doctor who helped a 25-year-old deliver twins in Aurangabad’s remote Lonwadi village two months ago, said, “I received a call at 2.20 am that a woman was in labour pain. The nearest hospital was 15 km away and we had to carry out the delivery in the ambulance itself. It was a challenge since the driver and ASHA worker with me were not medically trained.” Gawande has conducted over 10 deliveries in the ambulance so far. “Sometimes we have to conduct deliveries in hospitals when gynaecologists are not on duty,” he added.
Before the service was launched, the doctors who work in these ambulances underwent a 21-day training session in which they were taught to handle emergency cases like accident victims and maternal cases. A special book on handling such cases is also stacked inside 108 ambulances.
“In rural areas, the hospitals are located far away and on several occasions, the delivery has to take place inside the ambulance. A delivery kit is always available in the ambulance with all necessary instruments,” said Hemant Gaikwad, MD, BVG India, which has been given the tender by the state to manage the ambulances.
In rural regions this is the only mode of transportation for patients.
Dr Suchitra Pandit, associated with FOGSI (Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Societies of India), said that the service is helpful in stabilising patients in critical conditions.