Emergency on the highway? Soon a 3-digit number to call
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You will soon be able to call a three-digit national number from any fixed or mobile phone if you need help on the country's highways.
Taking note of the growing number of road accident deaths on the fast-expanding highway network, two Union ministries have decided to operate a common emergency number across the country. The Ministry of Health, collaborating on the project with the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, is said to have already written to the Department of Telecom for allocation of the number.
The proposed helpline will apply to road accidents, suicides, snake bites, burns, injuries, and even theft, on the highways. An ambulance fleet working with the help of a geographic information system (GIS) will operate through the highway corridors and enable quicker access to accident site.
A special call centre will also be created to handle distress calls to the emergency number. The centre may also have language-specific services for better communication in the states through which the highways run.
The integrated trauma care system will first be implemented on the Golden Quadrilateral stretches, followed by the North-South corridor. The two ministries have identified 149 health centres across the GQ to be developed as major trauma care centres.
The road ministry is aiming at providing a well-equipped and staffed ambulance service at every 50 km of the 5,952-km corridor. "The health facilities shortlisted range from primary health centres to district hospitals located along national highways. The roads ministry is in the process of tying up with these health centres to ensure quick access to accident victims," said a senior official from the Department of Road Transport & Highways. "Rs 1.5 crore will be given to each of the identified health facilities for the purpose."
There are also plans to expand the list further, roping in all the states and routing funds for upgraded trauma care facilities through National Rural Health Mission. The road ministry and NHAI have already invited tenders for new ambulances.