Tamil Nadu gets 108 as new emergency helpline

May 6th, 2008 - 8:15 pm ICT by admin  

Chennai, May 6 (IANS) Tamil Nadu Tuesday signed an agreement with the Hyderabad-based Emergency Management Research Institute (EMRI) to provide free emergency assistance to people across the state through an integrated dialling code ‘108′. “The programme will roll out medical emergency services along with fire emergency assistance and in cases of police emergencies like bomb blasts and criminal attacks,” said P.W.C. Davidar, a senior official in the state’s department of health and family welfare.

All existing emergency service numbers in the state will eventually be integrated with the 108 service, which will provide an ambulance within 20 minutes of a call. Even the police are expected to respond to accidents, fires and criminal attacks within 20 minutes.

The emergency calls will be answered by an integrated services call centre being set up in Chennai. The number would be accessible from a landline or a mobile phone.

In the first year, the state government is providing Rs.140 million to roll out the service.

It has also provided 198 ambulances at a cost of Rs.170 million, each equipped with a trained paramedic and driver. They are linked to the EMRI call centre where a doctor guides patient-care until he/she reaches hospital.

“In the first year, we expect an expenditure of about Rs 360 million and we hope to cover the entire state with the service in the next two years” said Davidar, who is also project director of the Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project.

“It will be completely a protocol driven programme, developed by EMRI jointly with the government. The software used for the programme has been developed by Satyam Computers,” he added. Through this number, even the police are set to respond to accidents, fires, crime attacks in 20 minutes.

Set up in Hyderabad in 2005 by Satyam Computers chairman B. Ramalinga Raju, EMRI has provided emergency care to 200,000 people in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat in two years.

Tamil Nadu is the fifth state where it began operations Tuesday and EMRI will begin operations in Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh later this month.

“We hope to cover the entire country by 2010,” said Venkat Changavalli, CEO of EMRI.

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