Mumbai: Soon, bike ambulances will attend emergency calls in 10 minutes

Mumbai to get 10 motorbike ambulances in the next two months; decision taken with the aim of providing medicare within platinum ten minutes instead of the golden hour

Do not be surprised if a paramedic arrives at an accident spot on a motorcycle within minutes of dialling 108 for an ambulance.

An emergency ambulance parked in Bandra. Health officers said the department is considering alternatives for ambulances, which often get stuck in traffic jams. File pic for representationAn emergency ambulance parked in Bandra. Health officers said the department is considering alternatives for ambulances, which often get stuck in traffic jams. File pic for representation

As part of its pilot project, state health department plans to introduce 10 motorbike ambulances in the next two months.

Equipped with medical emergency kits and a GPS device, these ambulances are being introduced with the aim of attending emergencies within platinum ten minutes instead of the golden hour. Moreover, these motorbikes will have the same toll-free number used by existing EMS ambulance service.

While this method of operating emergencies services is well established in the US, UK and France, among other countries, health officers said it is an attempt on the part of the department to find an alternative for ambulances which often get stuck in traffic jams. An officer added that initially these bikes would be stationed outside major public civic and state-run hospitals across Mumbai.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for this first-of-its-kind initiative in the state was signed between state health minister Deepak Sawant and British trade and investment minister Lord Francis Maude on September 9, 2015. Sawant had then said the decision was taken to let victims of accident or other medical emergencies access to medicare in the platinum ten minutes.

"Ambulances find it difficult to move through the city's congested roads. Doctors or paramedics riding motorcycles can easily cut through heavy traffic due to a motorcycle's manoeuvrability to attend an emergency call," he added.

Commenting on the initiative, a National Rural Health Mission (NHM) officer said, "These motorbikes will be loaded with life-saving medication and equipment such as defibrillators. The person riding the motorcycle will be an expert in handling emergencies such as cardiac arrest and grievous injuries. While the 108 ambulance service brought down the fatality rate, it will further decrease upon introduction of the motorbike ambulances."

About the bike
Another NHM officer said currently they are looking at securing sturdy motorcycles with engine capacity of up to 350 cc because purchasing bikes with more powerful engines would mean overshooting the budget, "For now, our aim is to provide immediate medicare. Since it’s a pilot project, we need to keep a tab on its feasibility as well," the officer added. While tenders for the project were floated yesterday, bids can be submitted with the NHM department till 5 pm on April 7.

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