On March 25, 21-year-old Yogita Yogesh delivered a baby girl in the most unusual circumstances — in a speeding ‘108’ ambulance near Metro Cinema in South Mumbai. This, despite the fact that there were at least three hospitals in the vicinity. Her savior was a BAMS doctor armed with just a delivery kit and an 18-day training in birthing behind him. The city has witnessed 13 other deliveries in government-run ambulances since the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) began in January 2014. In the state, 2,756 deliveries have taken place in ambulances.
Yogita had experienced sudden abdominal pain when she was near Charni Road station. Her husband rushed her to the station master’s office. A ‘108’ ambulance’s BAMS doctor, Abdul Rehman Deshmukh, who was on stand-by, was immediately called to check her. The Ratnagiri native was nine months pregnant and was going into labour. The doctor rushed her to the nearest government hospital in a ‘108’ ambulance.
In the less than 10-minute journey after Yogita’s water broke, Deshmukh asked the driver to drive cautiously as he snatched out the delivery kit and asked her to take position. He took help from a female guard.
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Outside Metro Cinema, as the ambulance sped through traffic, Yogita gave birth to a baby girl. “Her contractions were good and the baby was born healthy. We cut the umbilical cord. By the time the baby was born, we had reached Cama Hospital where we asked doctors to check the baby,” says Deshmukh.
Realising the increasing need for pregnant women to have institutional deliveries, and the assurance of a toll-free ambulance, over 300 BAMS and BUMS doctors in Mumbai have been trained on how to deliver babies in complicated circumstances. The toll-free 108 ambulances were started on January 26, 2014, with an aim to save lives in the golden hour, the most critical period to stabilise a patient.
According to Dr Jyotsnaa Mane, who is attached with the EMS, as specialised gynaecologists cannot be hired for each ambulance, training is conducted on mannequins for these doctors for 15 days after which on-ground practice is given for another three days. The BAMS and BUMS doctors observe deliveries in hospitals before joining the EMS. “We show them videos of deliveries, provide them with manuals on possible complications to prepare them,” Mane adds.
With traffic congestion in cities and issues of long distances between villages and hospitals, several pregnant women have delivered in ambulances with the help of either ASHA workers or any female aid.
A total of nine sets of twins have also been been delivered in EMS ambulances in the state.