Yes, I was sure 1298’s ambulance contributes to the life of people greatly when I first heard about their business.
Yes, I was impressed with the facility of the 1298 ambulance when I saw its ALS (Advanced Life Support) ambulance.
Yes, my heart was beating so fast and hard with the sense of mission when I sat on the front seat and ran through Mumbai’s busy streets.
But not until last week in Trivandrum did I truly realize the difference this company has brought to the society…
I spent a whole week in Trivandrum, Kerala, where Ziqitza Health Care Ltd. runs the public-private-partnership (PPP) model of emergency ambulance service. (The service there is known as “Dial 108” while the company’s private model is known as “Dial 1298”.) Under the project name KEMP (Kerala Emergency Medical Service Project), the 108 ambulance service now operates 25 ambulances in the district of Trivandrum. The service is completely free to users.
My mission there was to investigate every detail of operations in all the departments from control room to ambulance to finance. I will do the same for other 108 operations in Bihar and Rajasthan later this month and then work with department heads to improve and standardize the processes so that the company will be well fit for further scaling.
One day, I visited the largest hospital in Trivandrum, Medical College Hospital. I was waiting for our 108 ambulance by the emergency section of the hospital. It started raining. The place was getting crowded. But our ambulance has not come yet.
Other ambulances came, though. They are as big as ours, same white body with red and blue signs. Some are run by a private organization, others by hospital itself. I looked inside. I could not believe what I saw.
“It must not be an ambulance.”
That was the first thought.
Inside was literally empty. Nothing other than a metal frame (where a carrying board is placed – not even a stretcher!), bench, and a small sink! Where are medical equipments? Where are cabinets for storing medicine, mask, glove, gauze and bandage?
From what I know in Japan, I took it for granted to have an emergency medical technician, medical equipment, some medicines and tools on ambulance. Otherwise how can I call it an ambulance?? But that moment I once again realized such service was not readily available here.
How do you feel if only an empty ambulance is available when your mother is at emergency?
How do you feel if the fully equipped ambulance comes instead?