It is a harsh reality that ambulance services in India as a whole are quite terrible. Even in metropolitan cities like Bangalore and Delhi, a pizza will be delivered to your doorstep sooner than it takes an ambulance to reach. If this is the case in the most developed cities, imagine the scenario in those remote regions of the land where basic medical care itself is almost entirely absent.
The isolated regions of Chhattisgarh are one such place where this problem is prevalent. Not only is there a lack of medical centres, but the harsh forested terrains make it difficult to transport people in urgent need of medical care to those who can provide it. Pregnant women, especially, suffer due to this and that is exactly what these bike ambulance are out to rectify.
Ajay Trakroo, a health specialist with UNICEF said that the project was launched in 2015 with the go-ahead of UNICEF in partnership with Saathi Samaj Sevi Sanstha and the state’s Heath Department.
“Pregnant women are our main focus in the area as mortality rate is high in this conflict bound region of Chhattisgarh. With this experiment we are trying to provide necessary health care to the pregnant women of this Maoist-affected tribal and hard-to- reach forest area,” Trakroo told IANS.
He said the motorcycle ambulance’s USP is that it can be operated in hard to reach areas. It is a referral ambulance, that means it only ferries the patient to the hospital. As of now there is only one motorcycle-ambulance in the entire state which serves the pregnant women and other serious patients in whole of Bastar division.
On expansion of the project, Trakroo said that ten more motorcycle ambulances will be deployed soon.
“Though 108 ambulance services operate in Narayanpur, these cannot reach deep into the forest or hilly terrain where many villages are situated. This is where the motorcycle ambulance plays a vital role. We will bring 10 more motorcycle ambulances in a few months,” Trakroo said.
The bike ambulance is a modification of a conventional motorbike that is attached with a side-carriage for ferrying patients.
The National Institute of Technology (NIT), Raipur is working on improving the design of the ambulances to better suit the needs of the patients
How it’s helping
The bike ambulance project has already helped save 300 lives of which 80 per cent were pregnant women. The efforts have resulted in a dip in maternal and infant mortality rate in the Maoist-region of Narayanpur district in Chhattisgarh.
Driven by the locals themselves, these two-wheeled carriages help save time by ferrying patients from hard-to-reach areas in the forests to the hospital. The locals are even trained in administering the necessary first aid to the patients.