(SRI LANKA Feb 17, 2009) Representatives of the Sri Lankan government, the deputy Ambassador of the U.S. and other dignitaries gathered here last week to witness the launching of an emergency ambulance service and communications center.
The center provides a 24-hour emergency 1-1-0 phone number. “Now, in case of a life-threatening emergency, 600,000 residents can call the 1-1-0 hotline for an ambulance. We have coordinated all available ambulances in the Jaffna District to improve access to lifesaving emergency care” remarked Dr. Ketheeswaran, regional director of health services.
James Moore, Deputy Ambassador of the United States of America, placed the inaugural 1-1-0 call to the communications centre, after he praised Sri Lanka’s improvement in emergency care, decreasing death and disability.
The service also is available in Colombo, Kandy and Galle. In preparation for the expansion into northern Jaffna, more than 100 people have received training as emergency medical technicians. More than 650 nurses and doctors also have been trained in advanced cardiac and trauma care.
Medical Teams International instructed more than 12,000 people in basic first aid. Thirty three ambulances have been upgraded with life support equipment and supplies. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID-OFDA) funded the projected. The United Methodist Committee on Relief administered the emergency program.
“Pre-Hospital emergency care requires a system approach starting with basic first aid and continuing to hospital based emergency care,” says Donnie Woodyard, country director for Medical Teams International.
“The hope is that in Sri Lanka – and other developing nations – that emergency care can be available to all, so people won’t die needlessly,” says Paul Bollinger, our Emergency Medical Services Senior Advisor, who authored much of the curriculum for the project now used in 10 countries worldwide.
The project has been successful in Jaffna. The first actual emergency call was received less than 24 hours after the opening ceremony. The ambulance responded immediately, and a trained staff member provided first aid to the patient within five minutes of the call for help. The patient was transferred to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital for additional treatment.
Since 1979, Medical Teams International has shipped more than 1.2 billion in antibiotics, surgical kits and lifesaving medicines to care for 35 million people in 100 countries around the world. More than 2000 volunteers meet the needs of people worldwide each year.