K’taka: ‘108 ambulance service failed to reach 50% patients within time’

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its latest report has highlighted Karnataka governments’ successive failure in running the emergency medical services (EMS) under the 108 ambulance services.

The CAG said that in 50 per cent of the trauma cases, ambulances nearly did not reach within the critical golden hour, between 2014-15 to 2018-19.

Besides, the CAG also observed that only in 72 per cent of the cases the ambulance services have reached in the stipulated 30 minutes duration.

The CAG further noted that studies have indicated that the 108 services in cases of cardiac ailments, respiratory and stroke cases, though the time frame stipulated was 10 minutes, in over 60 per cent of cases, it reached much later.

“The success of EMS is largely dependent on its responsiveness to emergencies and the adequacy of the infrastructure in place. Audit noticed that EMS fell short of achieving the desired objectives completely,” the CAG explained.

The report added that the project aimed to reach the patients/sites within 20 minutes on an average in urban areas and 30 minutes on an average in rural areas and it was noticed that this was achieved in only 72 per cent of the cases.

Citing an example in Chitradurga, the CAG has said on December 2 2017 at 4.29am, the call centre received an emergency call related to cardiac ailment from Chitradurga district. aceAn ambulance (KA07G402) was assigned to the case immediately. The ambulance took 56 minutes to reach the patient,” the CAG stated.

While an example of the delayed responses to send an ambulance was also recorded wherein on May 4 2018 at 1.33am, the call centre received an emergency call related to medical assault from Raichur district.

“An ambulance was assigned to the case at 1.39am. The ambulance took 80 minutes to reach the spot. It was observed that the caller made 18 follow-up calls to check on where it was stuck,” the CAG claimed.

In its report, the CAG has said that between the period 2014-15 and 2018-19, the centralised call centre in Bengaluru attended as many as 253 lakh calls.

Of these, the CAG has noted, that the Centre has identified 91.62 lakh calls were triaged as effective calls, 51.05 lakh as medical emergencies and 41.94 lakh cases saw ambulances being dispatched.

The CAG has urged the government to chalk out a standard operating procedure (SOP) to the operations of emergency medical services to govern the operations of the ambulances, address the calls and also pre-alerting the hospitals on the arrival of the patients.