The free ambulance service available under Arogya Kavacaha scheme — popularly known as 108 ambulances — is severely hit in the state, following a lightning strike by drivers and paramedic staff from Saturday.
Totally, 517 ambulances are operational. But on
Saturday, more than 300 ambulances stayed off the roads following the dismissal of some employees of the ambulance service.
As a result, the city is reeling due to the lack of emergency services. According to officials, the 108 ambulance service receives at least 50 calls a day, requesting assistance. “On Saturday, we were not in the position to send ambulances. Instead, we are sending private ambulances. The situation is far worse in rural areas,” said an official. Recently, the Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI), which is the implementing agency for the 108 ambulance service, sacked 15 employees for allegedly tampering with records, drunk-driving, collecting money from patients and other misdemeanours.
Recently, a dismissed staffer, Sharanabasappa of Bijapur district, allegedly attempted to commit suicide. After being treated at a hospital, he was shifted to another one. Angered by this move, staff of the ambulance service stopped work abruptly, thus throwing the service out of gear, said state health secretary Ramana Reddy.
“We instructed deputy commissioners of all districts via video-conference to convince the ambulance service staff. The strike is illegal. We have taken adequate steps to attend to emergencies and alternative arrangements were made making use of the services of private operators,” he said.
Deputy commissioners have been instructed to take action against unrelenting staffers, added Reddy. “Alternative arrangements are being made by the district administration,” he said.