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Times of India
28 April 2010
Jaipur, India

The health department took possession of 164 ambulances. The vehicles will now be operated by its staff with the support of former roadways and district administration drivers
Health Hazard
Crippling Effect: Contingency Plan ImplementedThe strike by the staff of 108 emergency ambulance service forced many to carry patients to SMS Hospital in the city on Tuesday
The state government on Tuesday ordered restoration of the 108 emergency ambulance services which were disrupted for the past two days due to a strike by ambulance service staff. Implementing a contingency plan, the health department took possession of 164 ambulances. They will now be operated by health department employees with support of former roadways and district administration drivers.

Legal notices were issued to outgoing ambulance service operator company GVK EMRI. “The government is in agreement with EMRI and they are bound to provide the ambulance services till June 30, 2010. As the provider has been unable to comply with the contract norms for the past two days, legal notices were issued to GVK EMRI chairman and state head in Rajasthan,” said principal secretary, health, B N Sharma.

Demanding job stability and increment, nearly 1,100 employees of the Dhanvantri 108 emergency ambulance services, funded under the National Rural Health Mission, have been on strike. The government insisted that the agitating employees belong to the GVK EMRI. Therefore, their demands cannot be negotiated by the health department.

Late on Tuesday evening, the services at the 108 emergency response centre were partly restored as some NRHM employees were deputed to help the non-agitating staff of the service operator. Senior health directorate officers have been deputed to monitor the ambulance services.

“The health department has enough paramedics to man the ambulances. More than 32 former roadways employees are being taken to fill the shortage of drivers,” said a senior health department official.

The ‘108’ emergency ambulances services remain off road for the second day, denying transport to those in need of medical services. As the outgoing service operator had partly restored operations at the emergency response centre, nearly 20,000 calls were received by Tuesday afternoon. However, no ambulances were provided during the day, denying support to more than 400 patients.

“We are sorry for the inconvenience. Due to some difficulties, we are unable to send an ambulance. Please arrange alternative transport to carry patients,” an employee said.

Most of ambulances were handed over to the state government and were being put back into service. Police complaints were reportedly registered in two separate instances following resistance by some of the agitators. The district administration has also been made part of the contingency programme.

The health department witnessed intense activity on Tuesday, despite the state mourning. Officials held meetings at various levels. According to sources, strict legal action has been ordered against persons obstructing the government work.

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