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Motorbike Ambulance – bridging the last mile to health care


Necessity is the mother of invention and rightly they are. With the rapid urbanization, roads are becoming chock-a-block, and availing emergency healthcare becoming a major challenge. With the introduction of Motorbike ambulance, which can comparatively reach even to the inaccessible areas to save precious lives, is proving to be a boon for the people of interior or tribal regions and thereby bridging the last mile to health care.

Recently, at the request of the state government, Hero Motors company located at Sri City Special Economic Zone in Chittoor district launched two Motor Bike ambulances with an intention of reducing the time taken by 108 ambulances to reach critical patients and pregnant women in interior areas and tribal pockets. And these ambulances are equipped with first aid equipment, oxygen cylinder, IV fluids, drugs, surgical consumables, and the details of services and fleet movement are monitored through GPS mode on a real-time basis. So, for despairing people, motorbike ambulances have come as a life savior.

But off late, it seems the motorbike ambulance services not able to serve at optimum levels going by the widespread instances of the inadequacy of and delay in medical services to poor road connectivity have been frequently reported in the media. In the remote agency areas of Visakhapatnam, ambulances are often unable to negotiate the narrow lanes during the emergencies. In spite of media highlighting glaring instances of the plight of tribal people time and again, there seems to be no end in their hardships for seeking immediate medicare in the agency areas of Visakhapatnam district.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, several pregnant women were forced to walk miles to reach the nearest hospitals, bearing excruciating pain and sometimes delivering en route to the hospitals. On several occasions, tribal people carry these pregnant women in makeshift Doli (stretchers) trekking long distances through rugged terrains before finding an ambulance or a motorable road or primary health center.

Speaking to Hello Vizag Konda Srinu, an Adivasi resident from Bangaru Metta village of Paderu agency, said “that the feeder ambulance services are much faster than regular ambulance services. But even after government changes, selective amnesia order of the day. We are the just puppets to vote in the democratic drama that happens after every 4 years, where politicians’ promises bridges where there is no water. In most of the cases, tribal people, who live in and around these regions, lose their beloved ones unable to take the sick to the hospital in the ‘golden hour’. What a shame, the present government coming up with so many welfare programs, but turning blind eye to the untold suffering of the tribal people in their own state”.

“If district administration implements the motorbike ambulance services in full mode, it will be a boon for the tribal people, where they don’t get any medical help when an emergency happens. Most of the time people residing in the remote areas don’t even have motorable or no road conditions, which get difficult for a four-wheeler”, Srinu said.

Echoing similar views, Kamlesh Thakur, a retired Lieutenant commander, who served in the Line of actual control in the Rajouri district of Jammu region said motorbike ambulances are the first responders in places of the accident and offer assistance in managing high or low sugar and blood pressure, fractures, bleeding and trauma. In fact, these ambulances have proved their worth in impassable areas. More than 90 percent population in urban cities prefers using their own vehicle to take a patient to the hospital as they do not have enough faith in the ambulance. In times of medical emergency, every second lost decreases the chances of survival and might even lead to permanent damage, he said

Speaking to Hello Vizag, Dr. S Venkateswar, Project Officer, Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) said “Due to excess rainfall in the last five months and overflow of small streams, roads have been cut off making it difficult for ambulances to maneuver, and obstructing them to reach the nearest primary health center(PHC). Of course, it is a difficult challenge in the tribal areas, but we are laying roads year after year. Keeping in mind with the demand trend of motorbike ambulances, we have requested 60 more apart from the existing 42 motorbike ambulances which are catering to the needs of tribal people during emergencies. Also, there is a shortage of doctors especially pediatric and anesthetists in the PHCs and due to that we sometimes refer to the KGH hospital. Paderu ITDA alone has 1400 habitations and most tribal hamlets are sparsely populated and difficult to reach even by the feeder ambulances in view of frequent disruption in communication signals to the GPS fitted vehicle, explained by Dr. S Venkateswar.

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