The motorcycle ambulance is a welcome emergency service, especially for dwellers in the numerous narrow lanes in the city where access and mobility are extremely hard for a four-wheeler
Imagine you are living in a house at the end of a street (a gali in vernacular) in the Walled City or the many congested areas in town where streets or too narrow that even two persons can’t walk side by side without having a brush with each other.
Suppose you or one of your neighbours fell seriously sick. The first thing that you are likely to do is to take the sick to a nearby hospital or call up the emergency service. If all goes well and the traffic is smooth the ambulance car may reach on time but still it can’t enter the street and pick the patient up from the house. This is where a motorcycle ambulance can be helpful in providing the first aid or even transporting the patient to the hospital.
Over the last many years, an increase in population, rapid urbanisation and violation of building bylaws has resulted in many congested settlements with narrow streets in and around major towns of the Punjab. It is very difficult to reach these places and provide timely emergency services in the event of a fire, a building collapse or medical complications.
One realises this all the more while listening to the experiences of Muhammad Azam who has been working with the Rescue 1122 as a safety/rescue officer ever since the emergency service was started in 2006. Azam has participated as a rescuer in many emergency situations including bomb blasts, fire incidents, road traffic accidents, building collapses, and other medical emergencies in the most congested areas of the city.
He recalls one incident of fire at a shop in Ichhra Bazaar where they could not help save the loss of valuables because the pathway was too narrow and they could not reach the place in time to extinguish the fire. He talks about many other such incidents in other parts of the town such as Islampura and Shah Jamal colony.
Azam thinks the motorcycle ambulance service should have been started much earlier, "It could’ve helped save many a precious life and loss of valuables."
The motorcycle ambulance, a project of the government of Punjab, which is included in the Rescue 1122 fleet, was started in Lahore on October 11. Since then, it is said to have responded to 852 emergency calls. This shows the utility it has for the people living in different parts of the town. Maximum number of calls received and responded to are related with road traffic accidents and medical emergencies.
A total of 200 motorbike ambulances have been parked at 50 different locations or points across the city. Based on risk assessment, the city is divided into four zones or clusters of emergencies with 12 points in each zone. Zone One includes the Walled City, Shahdara, Yadgar, and Shah Alam Market. Zone Two includes areas of Dharampura, Mughalpura, Saddar, Cantt, and Daroghawala. Zone Three includes areas of Saggian, Gulshan Ravi, Moon Market, Chauburji, Ichhra, and Mansoora. Zone Four includes Gulberg, Faisal Town, Model Town, Qainchi, Defence Area, Bhutta Chowk, and Chungi Amar Sadhu.
Director General Rescue 1122 Dr Rizwan Naseer hopes that the addition of two-wheel ambulances in the Rescue fleet shall go a long way in improving the healthcare service delivery. "The inspiration to launch the motorcycle ambulance came from countries which are already successfully helping patients living in congested areas through a similar service," he tells TNS.
Reportedly, trained emergency medical staff operates these custom-built bikes which carry facilities like a blood pressure monitor, lifesaving medicines, glucometer, pulse oximeter, portable oxygen cylinders, cervical collar, airway and burn kit, trauma kit, splints and an automated external defibrillator.
There are similar services operating in a number of countries such as India, Germany, Brazil, Japan, Australia, and Hong Kong. In many Indian states, for instance, motorbike ambulances reach out to the people living in remote and forest areas where the four-wheelers wouldn’t manage to.
The Punjab Emergency Service has launched 900 motorbike ambulances for nine divisional headquarters of the province. These include Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, and Rawalpindi.