Friday, August 18, 2017

Medical association trials new emergency ambulance hotline

“1830”: That will soon be the number to call if you need an ambulance, the president of the Myanmar Medical Association says.

Photo: StaffPhoto: Staff

Dr Kyaw Myint Naing said the number will summon ambulances at any hour of the day and replaces a series of tough-to-remember nine-digit numbers.

“The new hotline is more convenient than the previous numbers, which were difficult to memorise and were not widely known,” he said.

Emergency ambulance services commenced operating in Yangon in October 2012. The service provides free pre-hospital care and transportation services for emergencies, which include but are not limited to traffic accidents and natural or man-made disasters.

“People in emergencies suffer shock and have difficulty remembering anything,” he said. “So the fewer the digits in our hotline the easier it is to memorise.”

In August, Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann urged the Ministry of Communications, Posts and Telegraphs to issue a three- or four-digit number for the ambulance services following a recommendation from the medical association.

Speaking during the seventh session of parliament, Thura U Shwe Mann said the long phone numbers currently in use made it harder for people to access help in an emergency.

Ambulance service general manager Dr Aung Lin told The Myanmar Times that the four-digit hotline is being trialled and will be formally launched “soon”. In the meantime, phone calls to the hotline will be

answered and ambulances despatched as necessary, he said.

Operating from MMA’s head office in Mingalar Taung Nyunt township, the service runs five ambulances. In the past 12 months the ambulances have been sent to render assistance to more than 460 people, of whom 66 were injured in traffic accidents, Dr Aung Lin said.

He added that access to the hotline is critical because ambulance service operators also provide trauma guidance before the ambulance arrives.

“When we receive a call, we first ask what the problem is and provide what advice we can before the ambulance arrives,” he said.

“If the patient is unconscious, we advice his or her companion to turn the patient on his or her side and check that the patient’s airway is not blocked.”

The service was established with support from both the MMA and Max Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady Foundation. But its work is only just beginning, Dr Aung Lin said.

“We need to increase public awareness and trust,” he said. “Some people would never dare to call our service because they are afraid that we will charge them money, even though it is totally free of charge.”