Care on Wheels: As Covid-19 Crisis Spirals, Andhra CM to Launch 1,088 Modern Ambulances Tomorrow

Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy will flag off a fleet of 1,088 ambulances on Wednesday, for the '108' and '104' emergency services, equipped with modern life- support systems to provide quick and better medical attention at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is running rampant.

For the first time, 26 neonatal ambulances are also going to be inducted into the fleet of 412 new '108' ambulances, where 104 of them are advanced life-support vehicles, and 282 are basic life- support vehicles. In addition to these, to cater to the interior and remote villages, 676 mobile medical units (MMU) of the '104' emergency service are being introduced.

The state government has taken up this initiative with a total budget of Rs 201 crore. Officials say all these vehicles are equipped with the latest technology, high-end medical equipment, and advanced features. Apart from oxygen cylinders, the new ambulances have ventilators, infusion pumps, syringe pumps, comfortable stretchers and provisions for delivery. The vehicles are also enabled with surveillance cameras to ensure proper healthcare monitoring by doctors.

To reduce infant mortality rate (IMR), the Andhra government has introduced 26 exclusive neonatal ambulances supported by hospital sick newborn care units (SNCUs). Delivery locations and SNCUs are perfectly mapped to provide early intervention during the transport, which will reduce the IMR. It has been estimated that around 10 to 12% of all newborns require SNCU supportive care.

For the '104' service, 676 MMUs are ready for launch, assigning one vehicle for each mandal across the state. Through these vehicles, 20 types of medical services, including all screening for communicable and non-communicable diseases, will be provided. In all, 744 doctors will be made available for these services, and they will visit every village once a month to offer medical services.

The state government designed the services with stringent work structure by fixing the response time, officials say. The estimated time of arrival of these emergency vehicles to the spot from the time an emergency call is received is expected to be 15 minutes in urban areas, 20 minutes in rural areas, and 25 minutes in agency. Also, a new programme, Dr YSR Rahadari Bhadratha, is also being linked to the '108' service, where any road accident case will be treated for free at any hospital across the state for the first 48 hours and up to Rs 50,000 cost. Dr YSR Aarogyasri Health Care Trust will reimburse the amount.

State minister for health and family welfare Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas said, "Introducing '108' and '104' emergency services is the brainchild of YS Rajasekhara Reddy, which saved lakhs of people's lives. But during the TDP regime, N Chandrababu Naidu neglected and ruined the system. Even though the vehicles require minor repairs, he left them unattended and in a dilapidated condition. Soon after forming the government, chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy laid special focus on these services and decided to put them back on track, with added advanced features. Besides improving the facilities, we also generated job opportunities through these emergency vehicles."