Jharkhand started its first boat ambulance service in Sahibganj district on Monday. The service will benefit the people living in the Diara (island) area, a stretch of land located near the Ganga and in catchment areas of the river.
Two boat ambulances will initially function between dawn to dusk in the Rajmahal area and Sahibganj.
A senior official in the Sahibganj district collectorate said that the service would help to ferry patients to Purnea in Bihar and Malda in Bengal by crossing the river as the AIIMS in Deoghar and good hospitals in Ranchi and other big cities of Jharkhand are quite far.
Sahibganj's deputy commissioner Ram Niwas Yadav on Monday informed that numerous panchayats are situated across the river in the Diara area.
“During the monsoon, the area becomes inaccessible and the residents face challenges due to water submergence. As a result, several health programmes, including immunisation drives, are disrupted in the region. To address this issue, the decision was made to introduce boat ambulances to provide essential healthcare services to the affected population. The administration has procured two boat ambulances using funds from the district mineral foundation trust (DMFT),” Yadav said.
The boat ambulance can carry six people. The boats are equipped with facilities such as oxygen cylinders, ECG equipment, cabin for patients, and lab technicians. oxygen cylinder, ECG equipment, cabin for patients, and lab technicians amounting to a total cost of Rs 47 lakh.
There is also a facility for the delivery of pregnant women.
“A private agency will be operating the ambulance service and soon a mobile number would be released for the masses for its booking. People can also call on the number of Sahibganj Sadar Hospital and Rajmahal sub-divisional hospital for booking an ambulance. The entire service of the ambulance would be free of cost. Depending on the feedback we might even increase the number of such ambulances,” Yadav Yadav.
“Currently, patients in the island areas are transported to the hospital by crossing the Ganga in traditional boats. The boat ambulances will be well-equipped with essential medical supplies, including first aid, ECG machines, oxygen inhalers, and flow meters. In addition, life jackets would also be available,” said Sahibganj civil surgeon Dr Ramdeo Paswan.
The ambulances will be equipped with GPS systems (to track their location), fire extinguishers, and masthead lights for night navigation.
The speed of the boat ambulance is 25 to 30 kilometres per hour.
Last month the Jharkhand government launched air ambulance services in major districts of the state.
Jharkhand health department additional secretary Alok Trivedi said that the tender process is being carried on for procuring 207 bike ambulances for bringing patients in inaccessible (forest) and difficult terrains to hospitals.
“We hope to complete the formalities soon and start the service by the end of the monsoon season,” said Trivedi.