Reaching the Unreachable: Motorcycle ambulances attending 150 emergencies per day


LAHORE: As many as 4,643 cases of emergencies have been attended by the Rescue 1122 Motorcycle Ambulance Service that was launched by the Punjab Emergency Service just a month ago on October 10 in Lahore, Pakistan Today has learnt.

According to the data available with Pakistan Today, 3,374 cases were related to road traffic accidents, while 105 cases were related to other accidents. Moreover, 840 medical calls were attended by the motorcycle rescue team, while 49 emergencies were related to more extreme cases, including bullet injuries, violence and suicides.

The data further revealed that these motorcycle rescuers had attended 43 fire calls, while 60 cases were miscellaneous in nature, including burns, electricity shock, delivery and animal rescue. So far, these motorcycle rescuers, also known as emergency medical technicians (EMTs), have not attended any case related to building collapse yet. The data accumulated in the last one month also revealed that the average response time of these 200 rescuers was less than five minutes.

Standing at the Pani Wala Talaab roundabout near the Rang Mahal Chowk with his motorcycle ambulance, EMT Shafique Rehmat said that he had attended over 20 emergency cases since the launch of the project in the metropolitan.

“We have to attend the patient within five minutes soon after receiving the call from our Command and Control System, that has been established at the LOS office of Rescue 1122. All the motorcycles have already been linked to the Command and Control System,” he said.

He further added that the rescuers have been given special mobile phones that were especially designed for this purpose, and they could only receive calls from the Command and Control System or connect with teams on the ground.

A special tracker had also been fixed in the motorcycles to monitor the movements of the bikers through the Command and Control System, he said. “Our bikes are equipped with different medical gadgets, including pulse oximetre, first-aid kit, burn kit, glucometre, bandages of different types, portable oxygen cylinders, cervical collar, pain-killer injections and many other life-saving medicines,” Rehmat added. He also said that they have also been given paramedical and motorcycle training as well.

Sharing his experience of serving in the walled city, he said that traffic congestion was the major problem of this area, adding that the primary objective behind launching the project was to cope with such a situation since they were required to serve the maximum number of people in a limited time.

Furthermore, Rehmat said that every motorcyclist had to cover an area falling within the radius of one to two kilometres, and they have been instructed to do mapping of their respective areas during free time. The rescuer said that they were supposed to provide first-aid to the patients, adding that an ambulance could also be called in if the condition of the patient required expert supervision. According to Rehmat, he had shifted only two patients to the hospital during the last one month as all the remaining emergencies were treated by him on the spot.

Talking to Pakistan Today, Ahmed Zia, a resident of Shah Alam area in the walled city, said that the motorcycle ambulance service had resolved the decades old problem of the people of the area, since ambulances used to get stuck in the traffic, thus leading to the death of many patients.

“In the walled city, we have extremely narrow passages and there are some streets where two persons cannot walk side by side. Therefore, the motorcycle ambulances were the only solution to deal with such a situation,” Zia said. This area had been a stronghold of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) since decades, and this project would definitely increase the vote bank of Sharifs in old Lahore, Zia added.

After the launch of the project in Lahore, the same was replicated in Multan with 100 motorcycle ambulances on November 5. So far, 553 emergencies have been attended in Multan, according to the data available with Pakistan Today.

Punjab Emergency Service Director General (DG) Dr Rizwan Naseer told this scribe that the project received huge praise in Multan where the response time was calculated at 3.5 minutes on average.

“The project was launched keeping in view the growing traffic problems and congestion on the roads, and the raison d’être of the project was to ‘reach the unreachable’. Soon it would be replicated in Faisalabad and Gujranwala in the first phase, and in Sargodha and Rawalpindi in the second stage,” he said.

He further added that the training for the rescuers was imparted by Turkish experts, and a batch of 100 paramedics would soon be added to the existing fleet in Lahore. “The confidence and satisfaction of people is increasing with every passing day as we keep receiving around 150 calls on a daily basis. Soon there will be 900 motorcycle ambulances throughout Punjab province,” he concluded.