India is gradually moving to use one emergency telephone number across the country, 108, on the lines of America's911 and Britain's999. In June, the state of Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand adopted this number for providing emergency medical services. The 108 service for Delhi is said to be in the pipeline.
The three-year-old Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI) service also operates in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Assam and Jammu & Kashmir, hoping to provide services to 100 million people by 2010. This is India'sfirst coordinated response service at one number across the country, like the UK's999 and Europe's112 taking a call every two seconds. The 108 service in India is ambulance-based. It has more than 600 advanced life-saving ambulances operating in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. The Tamil Nadu government has made available 200 such emergency medical technician-manned ambulances for the EMRI service. The service is free of charge.
The next time you holiday in the hills of Garhwal and find yourself in the midst of trouble, dialing 108 for immediate help can prove beneficial and at times life saving.
When a group of five foreign tourists found themselves caught in an avalanche on their way to Gaumukh, the origin of river Ganga, they were surprised to see help arriving within hours at the dizzying elevation of 4.255 meters in the Garhwal Himalayas.
In another incident, two critically injured persons were rushed to a nearby hospital in a matter of 30 minutes in the dead of the night on May 24 when a landslide struck their house in a remote village of Pauri district.
The EMRI 108 emergency service completed its 108th day in Uttarakhand on September 1. Fifteen more ambulances were launched taking the total number to 45. Chief Minister BC Khanduri and Health Minister Dr Ramesh Pokhariyal ?Nishank? flagged off the ambulances from Coronation Hospital premises in Dehradun. Speaking on the occasion, Shri Khanduri asserted, ?For Uttarakhand, the EMRI 108 emergency service has come as a boon.? He maintained that the service was launched in the state with great expectations and it had come up to expectation. Within a short span of time, it had earned a strong credibility amongst people for itself, he said, Shri Khanduri added that although the 108 service had been operating effectively, so far, there could still be room for improvement.
?Government is open to any suggestions for improvement in the service by EMRI 108 staff,? he said. The Chief Minister stressed on using the facility in a positive way and urged the emergency teams to avoid misuse. He expressed appreciation of the effort being put in by the emergency team in serving the people.
Dr. Ramesh Pokhariyal ?Nishank? said the 15 new ambulances would start rendering their services in Pithoragarh, Almora, Haldwani, Nainital, Rudrapur, Kashipur, Ranikhet, Garampani, Dwarahat, Kausani, Ramnagar, Vyasi, Rudraprayag, Bhikhyasen and Chamba.
After the Government of Uttarakhand and EMRI signed a Memorandum of Understanding on March 8, the service was launched with the first 10 ambulances on May 15 this year and it had attended to more than 5500 cases in its 108 days of existence. The EMRI Call Centre is receiving an average of 2080 emergency calls per day and more than 4620 victims have received emergency treatment so far.
So far, 1281 injury cases, including 873 road traffic accidents, and 408 other injuries and 999 pregnancy cases have been dealt by 108. Out of 4620 victims, 1579 (35%) were from Dehradun, 626 (14%) from Chamoli, 487 (11%) from Uttarkashi and the remaining 1928 (40%) belonged to other districts. In all, 4027 victims were admitted to hospitals. The average emergencies the 108 service is dealing with per day stands at 50. Dehradun district has been the busiest location for 108 services with 35 per cent of the total cases occurring here followed by Chamoli and Uttarkashi with 11 per cent, each.