Guwahati: GVK-EMRI 108 ‘Mrityunjoy’ Services completed 13 years of Saving lives in Assam on November 6, 2021. This service was made available to the people of Assam, upon signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by the Government of Assam and GKV-EMRI on July 8, 2008.

The GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute (GVK EMRI) started in April, 2005 to provide integrated emergency response services in a Public-Private Partnership mode with a Vision to provide leadership to save at least one million lives per annum Nationally.

This is a completely free service where, anyone, anywhere in the state can call the toll free number 108 for all emergency and pregnancy related requiring home to hospital and hospital to hospital transfer. 108 number is accessible from a landline, mobile phone, local telephone booth and can be dialed without any prefix or suffix.

Within a span of thirteen years it has became a lifeline for the people of state and helped change the attitude and perception in health delivery mechanism creating an environment of building the competency in providing pre hospital care. It has generated ample opportunity for accessibility and timely emergency service
in organized way and saved thousands of lives in the state since inception.

Lives saved from 2008 to 2021

With 793 existing surface ambulances and 7 operational boat ambulances the service has saved over 1.7 lakh lives across the state over a span of 13 years between November 7, 2008 to October 31, 2021. The emergency service however, lacks an air ambulance and although there have been news of plans to procure one, the same has not yet been confirmed by officials.

The Mrityunjoy services have attended over 46.5 lakh emergencies, handled over 17.6 lakh pregnancy cases and have assisted with well over 47 thousand deliveries in their ambulances.

Residents of Dima Hasao being carried by the Ambulance service.

“These are the cases that we have attended to. We shifted these patients to hospitals, we have assisted with deliveries inside our ambulances and handles patients in them through our services,” Dhurjyoti Prasad, a 108 emergency response service spokesperson told EastMojo.

Emergency response service provider with an elderly patient.

The service has also handled over 2.74 lakh Road Traffic Accident cases, over 1.66 lakh cases related to cardiac problems, over 6.1 lakh acute abdominal cases and over 1.5 lakh respiratory cases apart from handling 2,22,570 COVID-19 related emergencies of infected patients and those suspected to have been infected by the deadly viral disease.

Challenges faced by the 108 Mrityunjoy service

Handling COVID-19 cases

“We had seen a lot of things for the first time during the initial days of the pandemic, when the world was just learning about the new virus. Initially when it started, our team was very scared but we served people even without PPE kits initially. There were old people who needed to be carried out of their homes in ambulances,” Kanakendu Sinha, Regional Manager, Operations, told EastMojo.

Aim to reduce Response-time

The 108 Emergency Service seems to be struggling with reducing its emergency response time, informed the Regional manager. “Many a times, the Road Traffic Accident (RTA) patients don’t tend to stay too long near the spot so we have to be there in a very short span of time. Right now we are 11 to 15 minutes away but we aim to reduce that further,” Sinha told EastMojo.

Floods and rural road conditions

GVK-EMRI 108 Mrityunjoy ambulance service catering to citizens in remote areas of Assam.

Speaking further on the challenges faced by the services in Assam, the regional operations head said, “The rural road conditions in Assam are not very good. During floods we have faced a lot of problems because our Ambulances are mainly Winger most of which don’t ply on wet lands very easily.”

Ambulance service catering to shore areas of Assam.

“We have also had difficulties serving people, for instance in Hilly terrains of NC Hills, Dima Hasao, where villages are scattered and density of population is less. The road conditions are not so good and we still strive to cater to such areas like Karbi Anglong, shore areas in Dhubri and Kamrup Rural areas,” Kanakendu Sinha told EastMojo.

108 Mrityunjoy boat ambulance

Hoax calls

False calls and prank calls are another serious issue that ails the 108 Mrityunjoy Emergency service, said the official. “Still people call up in IRC even after 13 years of 108 service. That bothers us because that affects the operations part. Once we get a call, our ambulances start moving and if any emergency comes around that time from the area then it becomes a problem and by the time we realise that it was a prank or a hoax call, it could be too late,” said Sinha.

Hotspotting of Ambulances

On being asked if the 108 Mrityunjoy had fallen short of staff during that time or if being understaffed was a problem, he said that they are sufficiently staffed who work in shifts and that they also do Hotspotting of Ambulances, wherever required.

New addition of 100 ambulances in the fleet of ambulances.

“We take data from search engines of where most cases come out of. After thirteen years of service, we have identified the pockets where most cases come from. We have also had extra staff on stand by and staffing has never been a problem,” said the official.

Also read: Assam: 21 organisations demand job regularisation for 108 ambulance staff

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