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Ill-equipped ambulances threatening lives



KATHMANDU: Health experts today said ambulances are being operated in the city without equipping them with basic life-saving facilities.

Dr Rajesh Gongol, president of Nepal Ambulance Service (NAS), said ambulances were not equipped with pre-hospital emergency care systems and victims of trauma or medical emergencies are ferried to the hospital in taxi or in private vehicles.

According to a study conducted by Patan Hospital, of the patients brought to the Emergency Room, only 10 per cent arrived in an ambulance. Among the total patients, 54 per cent arrived by taxi, 14 per cent by bus, 11 per cent in a private vehicle and rest by other means of transportation. There are more than 700 medical emergencies reported in Kathmandu every day.

“The consequences of using a taxi or an ill-equipped ambulance are serious,” said Gongol, who is also the dean at Patan Academy of Health Sciences. He added that many victims die en route to the hospital.

In order to respond to the problem, NAS has been operating well-equipped ambulances in Kathmandu and Lalitpur. Each ambulance has two persons: a trained professional emergency medical technician and a driver/medical assistant. NAS can be reached on its phone number: 102.

Dr Manita Rajkarnikar, director at Nepal Red Cross Society, said her organisation operates 188 ambulances from 140 centres at present. Most of the ambulances are under ‘C’ category, which can just be used for ferrying patients from one place to another, said the director.

An ‘A’ category ambulance should have advanced life support equipment, including ECG, Cardiac Monitor and defibrillator, incubator, ventilator, nebuliser, head immobilisation facility, catheterisation set, radio-communication system and a doctor or a trained paramedic.

Likewise, category ‘B’ ambulances need to have basic life support facilities such as first aid, life saving drugs, oxygen, mask, flow metre, IV injection, suction machine, fracture splint, cervical collar, spine support, air way, patient restraints strap and a trained paramedic.

The ‘C’ category ambulances have a first aid box, oxygen cylinder, flow meter, mask, IV injection, stethoscope, BP apparatus, torchlight and a stretcher cum bed.

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