Starting Monday, Mumbai will have 150 ambulances, double its present capacity, to ferry coronavirus patients after a decision to convert over 72 BEST mini-buses into ambulances and use them to transport patients were taken. The BEST has been asked to keep the buses ready by this weekend.
Of the new fleet of modified ambulances, BEST has installed two buses with oxygen cylinders and life-support system.
The city is currently running on 66 ambulances of the MEMS to transport Covid-19 patients and suspected cases.
A shortage of ambulances coupled with a delay in availing hospital beds has led to hours of waiting in some cases.
Corporator Alpa Jadhav from Andheri West said an ambulance takes two to three hours to reach a Covid-19 patient because the driver and helper have to disinfect the ambulance after every round and wear personal protective equipment each time a Covid-19 patient comes.
In a notification on April 30, the state government had given the BMC’s disaster cell charge of mobilising ambulances for Covid-19 patients. The cell is handling its own fleet of ambulances along with MEMS ambulances.
Suresh Kakani, Additional Municipal Commissioner, said, “We have asked BEST to modify its buses and add stretchers. From Monday, we will have 150 ambulances. This includes mini buses, BEST buses and regular ambulances.” In mini air-conditioned buses, the last row of seats has been replaced with stretcher. The driver’s seating area has been cordoned using aluminium sheets to protect him from the virus.
PRO for BEST, Manoj Varade said, “As per the requirements of MCGM, 69 semi-ambulances and two fully equipped ambulances made out of mini-buses have been handed over to them. If the need arises, we are ready to prepare more of these.”
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