Mumbai: Soon, on the lines of app-based taxi services such as Uber and Ola, people in Maharashtra will be able to book an ambulance also through an app.
The Maharashtra government is planning to fit all the state ambulances, mobile medical units and other health department vehicles providing medical services under various projects in the state with updated Global Positioning System (GPS) and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), and launch a free mobile application using which people can call an ambulance or a mobile medical unit.
The mobile application will be linked to the existing ‘102’ toll free number for ambulances under the National Health Mission as well as the ‘108’ number operated by the Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services, a state government project.
The state public health department is in the process of issuing tenders for the project, which is being undertaken as part of the referral transport programme of the National Health Mission, said a senior health official, who did not wish to be named.
“Most of these ambulances had a GPS and GPRS system, but these were fitted in 2013. Their warranty was only for three years. It has been seven years now, so in many of these vehicles the GPS and GPRS have stopped functioning properly,” the official said. “This was hampering the effective functioning of the toll-free helpline for ambulances. We have recently got the approval to issue a tender for the project.”
Overall, as many as 4,821 vehicles will be covered under the project. These include 2,647 government ambulances, 1,195 medical vehicles of the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram of the National Health Mission, 889 other medical vehicles of the health department and 90 mobile medical units.
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Entire project, worth about Rs 6 cr, to be outsourced
The state government is planning to outsource the entire process, right from procuring the GPS and GPRS technology, installing them in ambulances and also maintaining them. The contractor will also be responsible for operating the 102 toll-free helpline.
Besides, the company implementing the project will have to develop the mobile application for both Android and iOS platforms. It will also be a free app.
“We will conduct a random sample inspection after procurement and after installation to ensure that the systems match the required technical specifications,” the health department official said.
The public health department has Rs 30 crore available as its budget under the referral transport project.
“A majority of this is to be transferred to the district authorities to provide ambulance services to people free of cost. The remaining, approximately Rs 6 crore, will be used for this project,” the official said.
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