Pune: Complaints have started pouring in about irresponsible behaviour and evasive attitude of ambulance service providers towards COVID-19 positive patients in the city. Road closures and COVID-19 symptoms are the two major reasons cited by ambulance drivers to deny service to many patients and their relatives over phone.
Following reports of patients dying due to unavailability of ambulances and also hospitals denying admission to patients, citizens have voiced their concerns over the delay in getting treatment for critical patients in the crucial golden hours.
Citizens have complained that most of the ambulance service providers ask several questions related to the patient's symptoms and the pick-up location. The first reason to say no for offering their service is that police have closed the roads for vehicles. Ambulance drivers also ask questions like whether the patient is having a cold, cough, fever or is he or she feeling breathlessness, is his or her COVID-19 test conducted. After asking these questions the ambulance service providers simply refuse to come and later disconnect the phone.
The 108 ambulance service provider agency clarified on Friday, that their ambulance had gone to the Khadakmal Aali area to pick up the patient, but since the roads were closed it could not reach the exact location.
Dr Milind Bhoi, Trustee of Pune Police Vighnaharta Nyas said, "City police have made alternative routes available to the closed roads in containment zones. However, ambulance drivers are not looking for alternative routes for serving patients in the containment zones. This is one of the reasons why in recent incidents the patient died as they could not receive medical help in time."
Pune Police Commissioner K Venkatesham said, "Only main roads in the containment zones are closed for vehicular traffic. There are alternative entry and exit routes made available in these areas for ambulances and other vehicles engaged in essential services. We appeal to the ambulance drivers that if they are unable to find their way through a containment zone, they can approach local police or citizens for the same. Ambulance service providers should help patients to reach the medical facilities and ensure treatment is received in time."
Edited by: Pranav Jalan