Unlike Delhi and other cities where health authorities play a crucial role in the registration of an ambulance vehicle, the City Beautiful is an apparent exception. From proper monitoring to certification of ambulances by health officials, no mechanism exists in the city to check the authenticity of ambulances plying on the city roads.
According to officials from the health and transport department, no regular monitoring is done to ensure if the ambulances are maintaining the requisite infrastructure.
The doubts over the authenticity of the ambulances on the city roads has come to the fore after the UT police last week busted a gang that was operating unregistered ambulances at the Institute. Three arrests have been made and 10 ambulances have been impounded by the police so far.
There are three types of ambulances widely used by hospitals across the country: Advanced life support, basic life support ambulance and patient transport ambulance. There is no record maintained by the health department as to which types of ambulance are used by hospitals in Chandigarh.
State Transport Authority Additional Secretary Rajiv Tewari told Chandigarh Newsline that “anyone can apply” for registering an ambulance.
“During the inspection, we see whether the ambulances are designed and equipped with basic health infrastructure. We are not provided with health officials, so we cannot do extensive checking,” Tewari said. As per the number provided by the transport department, so far six ambulances have been registered this year. In 2014 and 2015, 13 ambulances were registered by the department each year.
Director, health services, Chandigarh, Dr Vanita Gupta told Chandigarh Newsline there a system may come up in future. “So far, no monitoring is being done by the health department. We will perhaps come up with something in the future,” she said, adding that all the city hospitals are monitoring the ambulances on their own.
‘Role of insiders being probed’
Even as the UT Police are investigating the unregistered ambulances racket at PGI, police officials said the role of PGI internal staff is also coming out. “We have got some clues about it and we are working on it. The entire process [racket] couldn’t happen with the help of PGI’s internal staff,” said a senior police officer. “We have sought details about the staff deputed in various locations inside the PGI.”
Police said were sent to various states to check the background of the impounded vehicles. “We have sent police personnel to several states. We are expecting some breakthrough soon. Questioning of PGI security officials is also being done,” the officer added.
Narender Patial, SHO of Sector 11, said four PGI suspected security staff personnel, were questioned.
Meanwhile, PGI officials confirmed to Chandigarh Newsline that one of the persons identified as Mann, whom the police claimed was running the unauthorised ambulances at PGI was a former contractual employee at PGI.
“He was a contractual employee in the past and was doing the job of packing dead bodies at the PGI. He had left the job one-and-a-half years ago,” said a PGI official.