Saturday, June 3, 2023

Integrate emergency services to reduce road deaths: Centre

BHUBANESWAR: Even as Odisha has a dismal record of fatalities and injuries in road mishaps, the Centre has asked the state government to integrate the National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI) 1033 emergency service with 108 ambulances to ensure accident victims are rushed to hospitals within 10 to 15 minutes.

Union secretary of Road Transport and Highways Alka Upadhyaya has urged chief secretary PK Jena to take appropriate steps at the earliest for the integration of both ambulance services. Odisha has more than 6,000 ambulances from both government and private sectors. While 624 ambulances are under its 108 fleet, 15 are at the disposal of NHAI. At present, the average response time of an ambulance in the state is 24.78 minutes.

Since many studies have revealed if medical aid is provided within the golden hour to road accident victims, it would help save more than 60 per cent of lives. States like Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan have already initiated the integration of 1033 ambulance services with 108. Stressing the completion of the integration of ambulance services on priority, Upadhyaya has suggested the state government to take the help of the agency, which has developed the emergency response system software for NHAI to dispatch ambulances.

As per the direction of the Supreme Court’s committee on road safety, the state government has already initiated steps to map all private and public ambulances and they will now be operated under a common emergency number. “Efforts are being made to enable global positioning system (GPS) technology in all government/private ambulances in the state and bring them under Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) number 112,” said a senior official of the Commerce and Transport department.

The Health and Family Welfare department has suggested its Transport counterpart make GPS fitment mandatory in all ambulances. A company has already been awarded the tender to bring government/private ambulances under ERSS. “Once all the ambulances are brought under ERSS, the average response time is expected to come down to 13 to 15 minutes. We will be able to shift people suffering injuries within the ‘golden hour’ and save a significant number of lives,” the official added.

The death rate in Odisha now stands at 48 per 100 accidents against the national average of 32. In 2021, 10,984 accidents took place leading to 5,081 deaths. The number of accidents reported last year was 11,663 and the death toll stood at 5,467.

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