Maharashtra’s 108 ambulances have assisted as many as 4.42 lakh people in both Covid-19 and non-Covid emergencies since March with the highest number of patients served from Mumbai and Pune.
Till August 15, more than 900 ambulances have been pressed into service and 158 drivers have been hospitalised or sent to home isolation due to Covid-19. Two state EMS ambulance drivers have also succumbed to Covid-19.
From March till August 15, at least 34,490 people from Mumbai and 31,489 from Pune have been assisted by ambulance.
However, in Pune, the number of calls for non-Covid emergencies is higher than calls for Covid patients. As many as 17,417 people were served for non-Covid emergencies as against 14,072 people who were assisted for Covid emergencies in Pune.
The non-Covid emergencies mainly pertain to assisting pregnant women, trauma cases and heart ailments, among others, said Dnyaneshwar Shelke, chief operating officer at BVG Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services.
Initially during the lockdown, distress calls had been replaced by community calls for simple ailments like cold, cough and fever, but with the phase-wise lifting of lockdown, the number of people being served for non-Covid emergencies has increased. Of the 4.42 lakh people who have been served from March 20 till August 15, at least 1.67 lakh were assisted in non-Covid emergencies.
In Thane, at least 335 people were assisted in non-Covid emergencies while 355 were served in Covid-related emergencies from August 1 to 15.
As on August 20, there are 6.43 lakh positive Covid cases across the state and with the number increasing in semi-urban and rural areas, the demand for EMS ambulances is also rising. In places like Solapur where cases are on the rise, at least 1,278 people have been helped by ambulances in Covid emergencies between August 1 and 15, while 313 were assisted in non-Covid emergencies.
To differentiate between Covid and non-Covid cases, the EMS ambulances have introduced a call triage mechanism where the caller is asked to provide details of Covid-19 symptoms. “Our call centre then decides whether the patient needs Covid or non-Covid ambulance – or the patient transport ambulances,” Dr Shelke explained.
Of the 937 EMS ambulances across the state – at least 507 are for Covid-19 patients. In Pune, the EMS has 82 ambulances of which 51 are for non-Covid emergencies.
With the load increasing in rural areas, too, other ambulances are being integrated on the 108 platform so that asymptomatic patients who have tested Covid positive can be taken to hospitals, Shelke added. More than 240 private ambulances have been integrated for assisting asymptomatic Covid-positive patients across Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Ahmednagar.
Shelke said the response time taken by ambulances to attend to patients is a little long and they were serving as many patients as possible.
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