Published on April 12, 2021

Ahmedabad: A visit to the call centre of EMRI at Kathwada looks like a frantic operation – the calls never cease to ring as the executives of EMRI 108 and 104 (fever helpline) get questions from across Gujarat about Covid-19 and dispatch ambulances to take them to hospitals.

EMRI officials said that April has remained their busiest month so far in the pandemic. “Compared to 24% calls of the total calls to 108 in September – which was the earlier high –in April so far, 34% of the calls are about suspected Covid-19 patients. If we see daily calls, the average calls in November – the month of earlier surge –was the highest at 3,217. In the first 10 days of April, we are fielding 3,967calls,” said a senior official.

Jashvant Prajapati, COO of EMRI Gujarat, said that the services have increased their fleet and scope of service with addition of new vehicles and personnel. “The analysis of fever helpline calls can give an indication on the trends for 108 calls, too. The entire staff is dedicated to extend support to the citizens,” he said.

While the ambulance pile-ups at hospitals such as Civil Hospital are becoming a common sight, the experts also pointed at increased call levels due to unavailability of beds. A senior official told TOI that patients are hopeful of getting a bed in a hospital of their choice. “But when the vehicle reaches the spot, the bed category(ICU or ventilator for example) might be taken. Thus, he/she is taken to another hospital and so on,” said the official.

It’s also a field day for the 104 fever helpline. On an average, the executives field two calls per minute in April so far where the callers ask about symptoms, nearest hospital, testing protocols, home quarantine tips and so on.

“Out of total calls, 35% were about Covid-19. Out of 20,000-odd calls, the counsellors could identify suspected symptoms in about 28% of the calls who were advised testing and other protocols. We try to tell them not to panic and also educate them about different treatment protocols for mild, moderate and severe cases,” said an official.

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