RTI reveals a crippling shortage of state-run ambulances in Delhi
An application filed under the RTI (Right to Information) Act seeking information on how many ambulances were operating in May this year, has revealed that the Delhi administration’s Centralised Accident and Trauma Services (CATS) has a fleet of 35 vehicles. CATS manages the government-run ambulances in the city and 31 out of the 35 ambulances were purchased before the 2010 Commonwealth Games. In 2007, CATS told the Delhi High Court that it would increase its ambulance fleet to 450 by 2008. It has been reported that:-
- 14 advanced life support ambulances in the fleet operate only on weekdays between 8 am and 4 pm.
- A single staff member, called an assistant ambulance officer (a driver with paramedical training) is employed for each vehicle. Therfore, if the driver goes on leave, the ambulance cannot be used.
- The ambulances operate with the help of hospital staff such as driver, doctor, nurse and attendant. There are no technicians available to operate the ventilator. Hospital staff is required to operate the ventilator when a critically-ill patient is taken to hospital in an advanced life support ambulance.
- Many patient transport ambulances were not in a running condition and were in need of urgent repairs.
- Babu Jagjivan Ram Hospital: The hospital had two ambulances, but both were declared damaged by a competent authority.
- Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital (Rohini): Of the two ambulances, bought in 2000 and 2001, respectively, none were functioning.
- GTB Hospital: Out of the four ambulances, two were down because of minor glitches.
- Lok Nayak Hospital: None of four ambulances were equipped to manage critical patients.
- Bhagwan Mahavir Hospital: One ambulance without a ventilator
- Janakpuri Superspecialty Hospital: No ambulance at all.
- Guru Teg Bahadur and Maulana Azad Medical College said the ambulance drivers were on leave.
It was reported in media that on June 1 about a 23 year old meningitis patient, died in a private hospital in Rohini, after waiting for eight hours for an ambulance equipped with a ventilator. Based on the report, advocate Khagesh Jha filed an RTI on the state of government ambulances in Delhi. A PIL is being taken up by the Delhi High Court, which has made the hospitals and the Delhi government respondents in the case.