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Boat ambulance boon for Majuli patients
Published on 23 Oct. 2009 11:14 PM IST
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After air ambulance, it is now the turn of a boat ambulance to make its debut in the healthcare sector. Assam will be the first in the country to have boat ambulances fitted with life-saving equipment to reach out to those in distress, particularly in the riverine areas. According to a report in the Telegraph, the Tarun Gogoi government is launching the first-of-its-kind river ambulance service in the state for the people of Majuli on November 6 to mark the completion of one year of the popular 108 emergency ambulance response service (Mrityunjoy) in the state. Health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told The Telegraph that if the pilot project meets with the desired result, then five more boat ambulances would be introduced in Majuli and Sadiya in the next phase under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). “We hit upon the idea after the Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) planned to donate a speedboat to cater to the medical needs of the people of Majuli and sought the administration’s help. Since we only have ferry services, it becomes difficult for patients to reach Jorhat during emergencies, despite the availability of the 108 service in the island,” Sarma said. “We decided to convert a boat into a floating intensive care unit with facilities like manpower and equipment available with the 108 ambulance, which plies on roads, at an additional cost of around Rs 25 lakh,” he said. “We will also install a GPS in the boat. The river ambulance will be connected to two 108 ambulances on either bank to cut down on time,” Sarma added. Jorhat deputy commissioner L.S. Changsan, who is co-ordinating the launch of the project, said the river ambulance will be tied up with 108 emergency response service. “Generally it takes two hours to transport a patient across the river. With the introduction of the exclusive river ambulance, a patient can be transported from Kamalabari in Majuli to Neemati in Jorhat in 45 minutes”, she said. Dilip Kumar Goswami, general manager, (HR and legal) of NRL, said the survey in January 2008 revealed that seven women had died during labour two years back for want of emergency medical support in Majuli. “We hope such tragedies will not recur with the introduction of this service”, Goswami added.

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