Srinagar, Dec 24: Much awaited 102-108 Critical Care Ambulance service has again been suspended in Kashmir, thanks to internet gag.
In January, Health Department had decided to roll out 102 and 108 free ambulances by the end of April. Later the deadline was extended to November 2019. With internet suspended, the service has again missed the deadline
The 102 and 108 free ambulance services project was aimed to deal with emergencies and ferrying referral patients from one place to another. Conceived in 2011, as many as 416 ambulances were supposed to be rolled out under this project. However, it has missed multiple deadlines over the years.
An official of the National Health Mission programme said Jammu and Kashmir government has procured around 120 critical care ambulances so far. “We can’t make them operational because internet is not working. We need internet because ambulances are fitted with GPS,” he said.
Named after toll free numbers — 102 and 108 – the people can avail the service by dialing the number from any mobile or landline anytime.
The official said the project also got delayed since there is no engineering wing in the Health Department. “We don’t have adequate trained manpower who can undertake such tasks. This project also got delayed because of financial shortcomings,” he said.
National Health Mission (NHM) was designated as the executive agency for the project. It was supposed to release funds in order to start the project. “At present, it has been put on hold because we don’t have access to internet,” the official said.
Under this project, 50 ambulances were to be retrofitted for advanced life support (with all lifesaving protocols).
J&K’s Programme Manager for Emergency Care Dr Rashid Para said these ambulances would be made operational soon in the new Union Territory.
“The project has got hampered because of lack of internet services. These ambulances can be made operational only when internet is working,” he said.
Para noted that call centers for running these ambulances have been set up in Jammu.