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Photos: India 999

Outsourcer's ambulance scheme goes nationwide
By Nick Heath, Contributor on
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Outsourcer's ambulance scheme goes nationwide

The Indian government will help fund the rollout of a scheme created by an Indian outsourcing veteran to provide the country's first dedicated ambulance service.

For years the country has had no dedicated single number to call an ambulance, with each hospital having their own ambulances and own numbers.

Now the government has agreed to help roll out the Emergency Management and Research Institute 108 service that offers one number and one ambulance fleet - with vehicles as seen here - to serve India's entire population of one billion people by 2010.

Since the service was established by Ramalinga Raju - founder of outsourcer Satyam - in Hyderabad in 2005, it has helped scores of people in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

The government has agreed to fund 75 per cent of the service, with the remaining costs met by Raju and his family, and the running costs expected to hit $500m by 2010.

Photo credit: Nick Heath

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All calls are directed to the EMRI call centre, which employs 4,382 workers directing some 600 ambulances in response to 1.6 million emergencies each year.

By the time the service is rolled out across the country it will have more than 10,000 ambulances.

Photo credit: Nick Heath

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As well as the usual essential medical equipment such as defibrillators, the vehicles also carry provisions such as insulated gloves to deal with live wires and cutting tools to release victims of car crashes.

A bench is provided inside the ambulance for family members to travel with their injured relative.

Photo credit: Nick Heath

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Each ambulance has a Mercedes Benz engine and costs about $40,000 compared to $140,000 in US. The foundation also claims that the average ambulance trip costs about $15 compared to $100 in the US.

Some African and Asian governments are in talks about buying a spin-off of the service for use in their countries.

Photo credit: Nick Heath

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The vehicle carries extra-large oxygen tanks underneath to cater for the long journeys out to rural India.

Photo credit: Nick Heath

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The average call centre worker earns $200 per month, compared to $125 per month for the ambulance drivers, $160 per month for the paramedics and $200 to $300 per month for the senior paramedics.

Photo credit: Nick Heath

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