The Indian healthcare industry has grown several folds over the past decade but still we lack on several vital components that are in healthcare, one of which is an emergency response system and a concrete disaster management plan at grass root level.
The emergency response system in the country should be designed such that it aims at developing and coordinating with all the stakeholders that play vital role in responding to emergencies of any nature, whether it is a law and order, fire outbreak, natural/industrial disaster, accidents at home, workplace or even on the roads.
The common man must be in a position to inform the concerned authority via a singe access point that will have network with all the stakeholders involved in emergency management, this would ensure propagation of information to all levels, so that the situations are managed before much damage happens to life and property also that would ensure to bring those to justice who are responsible before they flee away from justice.
The emergency response system is a vital public service, a system of care for victims of accidents, sudden and serious illness or injury. This system depends on the availability and coordination of many different elements, ranging from an informed public capable of recognizing emergencies and responding swiftly to inform the system that would move its resources depending upon the situation. The system comprises of the law enforcement department, the fire department, emergency response medical services, trauma centers and hospitals capable of providing highly specialized care to the most seriously ill, injured and the needy.
A single countrywide emergency access number like 9/11 in USA or 11/2 in UK, proper coordination among departments, well equipped ambulance network, wireless communication system, trained personnel, pre-hospital and emergency department personnel are some of the critical elements necessary for the emergency response system to work efficiently. Life saving care is given to the patient on scene, en-route to the hospital and the arrival of the critically ill or injured patients is notified to the hospital in advance by wireless system. The doctors, the nurses and the paramedics are specially trained in life saving emergency care techniques.
The ambulance service and initial life saving care must be free to all patients at all assigned hospitals, irrespective of the person’s ability to pay. The charges are payable as per the hospital schedule for further treatment in the hospital. Patients who are unable to pay cost of further treatment are transferred to public hospitals for free of cost. Patients are also free to opt out of the system at any point during the care.
The best in-hospital care in India compares very well with the best in the world. However, the concept of Pre-Hospital care under the umbrella of emergency medical services has not taken roots effectively in India. The lack of critical components of emergency response system, with formally trained personnel, easy access with one single phone number across the country, well-equipped ambulances, organized hospital emergency departments, trained doctors and nurses, is contributing significantly to the mortality and morbidity of patients needing acute care.
Trauma and other diseases of modernization such as Heart Attacks, Stroke and etc along with disasters plague our country with resulting horrible numbers of deaths and disability especially in our people in the prime of their lives. Losses as a result of this are immeasurable.
Disasters both natural and man made like the recent terror strike, Tsunami or even the Bhopal gas tragedies that claimed many lives and caused extreme socio-economic losses for us. Disaster Preparedness and management is an essential component of an emergency response system and will enable us to deal with such disasters and calamities in a much more efficient and effective way, rather blaming individuals or governments every time a disaster strikes, we need concrete system to manage and prevent disasters.
The experience of many countries like the United States has shown that the development of disaster management plan and efficient emergency response system can not only reduce mortality by almost 40% but also help in early identification, rapid treatment and modification of risk factors before things spin out of control. Well established emergency response system thus will lead to a more cost-effective medical management system and improved social and economic outcomes.
Further more integrating emergency response system with other component of health care will help in developing and implementing cost-effective community health care including women, children, the elderly and others with special needs, this will reduce premature deaths and disability through early intervention, prevention and rehabilitation.