ROLE of 108 Emergency Medical Service during the Nationwide Medical Crisis


The pandemic COVID-19 has left none untouched with its effects. The most affected amongst all are the frontline workers, including Emergency Ambulance Drivers, 104/108 Emergency Number Operators, Emergency Medical Staff, etc. However, the entire Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team is still determined to fight against the novel coronavirus. Their determination and spirit of fighting for the victory over the pandemic is worth no match in this world. They have proven themselves as the superheroes of our era.

Nonetheless, the reality is bitter. All their efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases have fallen flat so far with the frequent rise in positive cases despite three months of lockdown. The critical situation due to the pandemic has made emergency medical service staff more vulnerable to the disease. It has, thus, compelled the emergency healthcare organisations to adopt a few quick measures to relentlessly support the state and central government with the ever-increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients.

Some of the measures worth noticing that health organisations and ministry take during such emergency medical crisis are:

Scale up the Operations: 104/108 emergency helpline number received 10x more calls in a day as compared to regular days. The call centre operators were not only handling queries on COVID-19 disease but also emergency medical transfers on the ground. The workforce required to tackle this tremendous pressure of calls inflow at the centres was filled within a short period. All of this happened based on the guidelines and advisory issued by the Health Ministry. Many stayed at the call centres’ facility for weeks to help people in need and to safeguard themselves and their family members.. From amongst the reputed emergency healthcare providers, Ziqitza Healthcare alone scaled up their operations twice the usual days across all their operating states of Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Sikkim. Adding more employees to the existing team, improving the query handling and resolving ability of the team and quick training of the new and existing staff to tackle the crisis are part of their efforts to scale up the operations.

Staff Check-Up: The tele-calling team members of 108 emergency number and 104 helpline number are daily checked for the symptoms of COVID-19 or any other disease. This routine check-up helps in separating the infected members and offering them rest along with treatment on a priority basis. This measure is taken along with the standard guidelines of maintaining social distancing norms, wearing PPE kit, regular fumigation of office, maintening personal hygine, etc. Also, the 108 emergency ambulance service members are regularly checked for COVID-19 symptoms or any other disease to offer them necessary time for rest and treatment. Understanding the critical situation at this moment and increase in their vulnerability to the disease and exhaustion, their safety and lives are of utmost importance to further help thousands in distress due to the pandemic. For instance, some of the staff members of Ziqitza Healthcare operating in Madhya Pradesh were given timely help and support for treatment on confirmation of being COVID-19 positive. It was possible only due to routine checkup.

Improved Co-ordination for EMTs: 104 helpline number has been playing an instrumental role during the pandemic by educating the people about the COVID-19. Not only this, but the helpline operators have also efficiently co-ordinated with 108 emergency number operators for the transfer of COVID-19 suspected or confirmed patients. This improved co-ordination by staff members of different operating numbers has served as a boon for many to receive timely help across the state-run emergency helpline and ambulance numbers with Ziqitza Healthcare in Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha & Sikkim.

In all, the team operating the 104/108 emergency numbers across different states of the nation are leaving no stone unturned to serve the people of our country in such times of trial. The emergency medical service providers like Ziqitza Healthcare have been incredibly supportive to the government with their active and useful role in handling the pandemic. Considering the positive contribution by EMS so far, we need to recognise the current status of emergency medical service by making it a sector under the healthcare industry.

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