During the ongoing nationwide lockdown, the 108 Maharashtra Emergency Services has helped 55,990 patients with requisite assistance and hospitalisation, mainly for simple ailments such as cold, cough and fever. The number of calls from panicky people has increased amid the increasing number of coronavirus cases.
Of this, a total of 2,430 were suspected infection cases – including 1,507 from the community and 923 from hospitals and screening centres, who had utilised the service.
The service was launched by the Maharashtra government in 2014 and is operated by BVG India Ltd, which provides emergency medical access the state.
Dr Dnyaneshwar Shelke, chief operating officer at BVG Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services, told The Indian Express that on an average, nearly 80,000 calls are recieved every month for assisting people during emergencies like road accidents and other trauma cases, but due to the current unprecedented situation, a majority of the calls were from persons who had simple ailments but who feared the worst due to the outbreak.
According to Dr Shelke, the distress calls have been mostly replaced by community calls for simple ailments and in the last month, the highest number of persons who were assisted by the service were from Pune (6,189), followed by 5,780 (Mumbai) and Nagpur (3,000).
There were 2,537 persons from Kolhapur who required the 108 ambulance servicesfollowed by 2,348 in Nashik, 2,343 in Satara, 2,259 in Amravati and 2,026 in Thane.
“We have a total of 937 ambulances, including 233 advanced life support (ALS) and 704 basic life support (BLS) ambulances, with over 5,000 EMS professionals (doctors, drivers and managers) working in MEMS,” said officials.
Sterilisation and fumigation of all ambulances which have ferried suspected COVID-19 patients or diagnosed ones is done immediately, said Dr Shelke.
Private ambulance services hit
According to Gopal Jambhe, coordinator at the Pune District Ambulance Association that runs 450-500 ambulances in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, 50 per cent of the services have been hit due to the lockdown. “Our drivers are at other places and cannot return to the city due to the lockdown. While we do provide services, majority of our work has been cut down,” Jambhe said, adding that they have provided standard personal protective equipment like face masks, gloves and hand sanitiser.
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