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HCM City hospital pilots motorcycle ambulance service

Update: December, 12/2018 - 09:00
A 46-year-old woman in District 7 receives emergency treatment from medical personnel arriving by a motorcycle ambulance from the Sài Gòn General Hospital in District 1. –VNS/Photo Gia Lộc
Viet Nam News

Gia Lộc

HCM CITY– At noon on December 3, Sài Gòn General Hospital in HCM City’s District 1 received a call for a motorcycle ambulance from a man in District 7. His wife needed emergency treatment.

A doctor and a nurse from the hospital’s emergency aid station immediately stopped eating lunch, got on their ambulance with equipment and medicines and left for the patient’s house.

Less than 10 minutes later they had reached the house more than six kilometres from the hospital on Lê Lợi Street.

The house was in a winding alley too narrow for a regular ambulance to enter. This was why Nguyễn Hữu Bình, the patient’s husband, had asked for a motorcycle ambulance.

“She had felt nauseous and dizzy and needed emergency treatment,” he said.

According to the visiting doctor, the woman suffered from vestibular disorders, hence the dizziness.

She was prescribed medicines to relieve her symptoms and told to visit the nearest hospital if her situation worsened.

The medical personnel stayed back until her condition improved.

The 46-year-old patient was one of 26 cases for whom motorcycle ambulances have been dispatched under a pilot programme run by the Sài Gòn General Hospital for the last three weeks.

Of the patients, nine were treated at home without transferring to a hospital for further treatment, Dr Nguyễn Khắc Vui, the hospital’s deputy head, said.

The rest were taken by ambulance to Chợ Rẫy, Gia Định and other hospitals.  

After getting an emergency call from a patient’s family, the hospital’s doctors assess the condition and immediately dispatch a doctor and a nurse.

And then, if needed, the patient is taken to a hospital for further treatment.

A woman in District 4 who was 31 weeks pregnant and at high risk of delivering prematurely received emergency treatment from medical personnel arriving by motorcycle ambulance service. When her condition improved she was taken to Từ Dũ Hospital by a regular ambulance.

Vui said: “The hospital asked the Department of Health to approve the motorcycle ambulance service because normal ambulances cannot enter many of the city’s narrow alleys.”

Besides, during peak hours, doctors and nurses can reach patients’ houses quicker on motorcycles than regular ambulances, he pointed out, saying the average time it takes the motorcycles is only three to five minutes.

Doctors and nurses ensure emergency treatment during the ‘golden hour’ to save patients.”

If patients with hypertension and the risk of stroke, for instance, are provided timely treatment, complications and costs could be reduced, he said.

A doctor and a nurse on a motorcycle ambulance arrive at a patient’s house for emergency treatment.–VNS/photo Quang châu

Many patients and their relatives are satisfied with and trust the new service, he said.

Bình said: “The service is very good. After watching the introduction of the service on television, I saved its hotline number for using in an emergency.”

More and more people not only in District 1 but also other districts are calling the hotline to ask for a motorcycle ambulance. Doctors and nurses at the hospital’s satellite emergency aid station have become busier and busier since the pilot launch of the motorcycle ambulances.

Assoc Prof Dr Tăng Chí Thượng, deputy head of the department, said Sài Gòn General Hospital’s pilot programme was approved because the district is in the city centre and has large numbers of local and foreign tourists and hosts public events often.

Besides, the district has many narrow alleys, he added.

Seeing the beneficial outcome of the pilot programme, many other medical facilities like the District 2 Hospital, District 1 Hospital, District 4 Hospital, Thủ Đức District Hospital, and even 115 Emergency Aid Centre have sought the department’ green light to operate motorcycle ambulances.

According to the hospitals, they each only have two ambulances, not enough to meet the increasing demand.

Each of them responds on average to four to 10 emergency calls every day whereas a place like Thủ Đức District Hospital gets more than 30 daily.

As a result, many people have to depend on taxis to reach hospitals for emergency treatment because of the long wait for an ambulance.

Last month the department approved all of the hospitals’ demand to set up a motorcycle ambulance service and instructed its divisions for health affairs, planning and finance to assist them.

It has also suggested that relevant city agencies should give motorcycle ambulances the same priority as traditional ambulances on the road to enable them to reach patients quickly.

It is expected to submit the programme to the city People’s Committee and Ministry of Health for approval to expand after a three-month trial. – VNS

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