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Idle RIMS ambulances for public aid

Two cardiac care ambulances, which were procured during the 34th National Games and subsequently handed over to RIMS but never found much use except running behind VVIP cavalcades, will finally roll out for the common masses.

The RIMS management handed over the air-conditioned vehicles equipped with wireless ECG, special stretchers, oxygen cylinders and other equipment required for emergency treatment to the cardiac emergency department in the newly opened super-speciality wing a fortnight back.

This means that the ambulances, procured at a whopping cost of nearly Rs 1.2 crore, are now at the service of the public. One has to simply call up RIMS at 0651-2541533 to avail the facility.

“From now on, the cardiac ambulances can be used by the common people for ferrying patients suffering from heart problems. As of now, they can call up at RIMS to seek the ambulance service and the vehicles will reach the caller’s address after permission is granted by the director,” RIMS superintendent Dr Basundhara told The Telegraph.

Though the hiring charge has not been fixed officially, insiders suggested that the rate might vary between Rs 15 and Rs 18 a kilometre.

But some grey patches do remain as the hospital’s super-speciality section does not have enough manpower to run the emergency service smoothly. Rules say that a doctor and a paramedic must be present in a cardiac ambulance while transporting patients to the hospitals — a provision that RIMS might find it tough to meet.

“Yes, running the service might be a little difficult currently because of shortage of staff, but every good project has a rough beginning. We are in the process of hiring more employees. So, I don’t foresee any problem in making the ambulances available to the masses soon. The cardiac emergency infrastructure is being readied and I am very positive about this facility,” said Hemant Narayan Rai, the cardiac specialist of RIMS.

Purchased during the National Games in February 2011, the vehicles reached the hospital a year later though RIMS was their official address from the very beginning. But the vehicles never catered to the general people as RIMS could not finalise usage guidelines for a long time.

“The ambulances’ maintenance expenditure being high and fuel consumption not being known to us, we were not sure under which heads such recurring costs would go. Moreover, there was no driver. Actually, RIMS was unprepared to run the service and there was no budget for maintenance. Hence, in 2012, one of the two ambulances was stationed at the chief minister’s residence for some time. It was brought back to RIMS last year,” said a source.