108 comes up with special ambulances to cater to those with symptoms of corona virus

 thehindu.com  03/26/2020 10:28:34 

Field managers of 108 ambulance services have geared up to maintain quick and uninterrupted ambulance services as panic calling by people from all over the State under lockdown due to COVID-19 threat has kept its short-staffed call centre very busy.

Meanwhile, the GVK-EMRI ambulance services have earmarked 11 special ambulances to ferry patients who have symptoms of corona virus infection to the government hospitals.

In Tirunelveli division, covering four five districts of Tirunelveli, Virudhuanagar, Thoothukudi, Kanniyakumari and Tenkasi, all 78 ambulances, including one bike ambulance, have been kept in working condition with men and materials.

In this extraoridinary situation of lockdown, we have ensured that our call centre in Chennai functions round the clock though with limited staff strength. With increased distress calls in the last two days, there are occasions during peak hours that our phones are continuously engaged. People have misconstrued it as if we are not attending to calls, said its Tirunelveli Programme Manager, Ranjith Viswanath.

In order to ease the situation, the district coordinators have been coordinating with the government hospitals and Primary Health Centres in finding ambulances for them at the earliest.

Our contact details are available in the GHs and PHCs. In case the hospital authorities find it difficult to get connected to 108 call centre, they call us and the coordinators help them get ambulances, Mr. Viswanath said. The field managers are getting around 120 calls every day, he added.

Mr. Viswanath also advised people not to get panic if the phone lines in call centres are continuously engaged. They can reach us through the local GH or PHC, he said.

The coordinators have been working round the clock to ensure all usual support to the ambulance pilots and emergency medical technicians with fuel, maintenance and medical kits.

Special COVID ambulances

In order to meet the emergency situation, Tirunelveli division has earmarked 11 ambulances exclusively to ferry patients who might have been infected.

The vehicles have been parked at vantage locations in each district. Besides the usual medical kit, the special ambulances have personal protective equipment for the pilot and the EMT. Additionally, the vehicles have disinfectant sprayer guns.

This arrangement has been made as per the Tamil Nadu governments instruction to avoid spreading of COVID-19 infection. While the special ambulances would cater only to COVDI-19 patients cases and not other cases, other ambulances would not be used for COVID-19 cases, Mr. Ranjith said.

After every such person is dropped at hospitals, the ambulance is completely disinfected before attending to the next case, he added.

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