Lives at risk as PES lacks ambulances at newly established stations

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LAHORE: Putting several lives at risk, the Punjab Emergency Services (PES) Rescue 1122 is unable to provide emergency services at seven of its newly established stations owing to the unavailability of ambulances, Pakistan Today learnt on Monday.

According to the details, ten emergency rescue stations were established in Shujabad, Jahanian, Tibba Sultan Pur, Burewala, Nowshera Virkan, Kamoki, Wazirabad, Khanqah Dogran, Narang Mandi and Feroze Watwan tehsils under Rescue 1122’s project titled “Establishment of Emergency Service in Tehsils Covering under DDP Schemes in 10-Tehsils/Towns”. Moreover, under the project, each station was to be equipped with two ambulances and one fire rescue vehicle while every station had to be overlooked by a Rescue and Safety Officer (RSO) with a total staff of 33 personnel including the RSO.

However, sources in Rescue 1122 informed that despite the establishment of the centres, they were still not fully functional. “The objective of the project was to provide timely emergency care in case of accidents, emergencies and disasters and to establish community response teams for the safety promotion and management of large-scale emergencies,” they said.

They further told that the project consisted of two parts i.e. the construction of 10 stations, each taken up independently by the district government as capital cost and the addition of vehicles and staff for service delivery as revenue component. However, they said, during an evaluation conducted on random sample basis it was observed that seven out of 10 stations were not meeting their goals due to the lack of ambulances.

“Most of the staff—273 out of the approved 330 were recruited and placed in already existing station to get hands-on experience and for them to be familiar with their role, but no vehicles had been procured out of the planned 20,” sources told and added that the issue pertaining to the procurement surfaced with the High Power Procurement Committee and the contract with Toyota had been cancelled. “The funds had been surrendered by the PES,” they told.

They further said that a huge amount of Rs125 million was spent on the completion of the stations but they had remained dysfunctional for the past several years.

“The rescue station in Shujabad was completed on June 8, 2013 at the cost of Rs10.25 million, Jahanian on March 8 at a cost of Rs21.81 million, Tibba Sultan Pur on April 9, 2016 at a cost of Rs24.60 million, Burewala on March 5, 2016 at a cost of Rs23.95 million while Nowshera Virkan, Kamoki, Wazirabad were completed at the cost of Rs45 million on May 31, 2017,” they added.

The spokesman of the Rescue 1122, Jam Sajjad while talking to Pakistan Today admitted that the rescue stations were dysfunctional due to the lack of ambulances. He said the government had constituted a High Power Procurement Committee to procure the ambulances and fire tenders that was never prepared for any other department’s procurement.

“The committee that was constituted in October 2017, has still failed to make any decision in this regard,” he said and added that due to this delay, the PES was failing to perform its duties while several lives in the vicinity of the said stations were at risk.

“We have highlighted this concern several times, but the committee is reluctant to take our reservations seriously,” he added.