On Thursday 18th of February 2016 a group from the association had the immense pleasure of meeting Dr Asad Ali director general of rescue 1122 service in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) at Peshawar. We were given an extensive tour of the central head quarter which was followed by a presentation and detailed review of the services that are now available to the citizens of Peshawar and surrounding areas.
It was the fateful day of 28th of Oct 2008 when the lives of 337 families along with the thousands more changed. In a single bomb blast that erupted in the most densely populated area of Peshawar, The Meena bazar, frequented by women and children 137 people lost their lives with 200 or more injured (1). This was the day when rescue services in Peshawar were tested to its capacity. Peshawar has three main government hospitals, all already overwhelmed with patients due to the lack of an effective primary health care system were put to the test. It was this event that triggered a reaction from the local government. A domino effect which culminated in the establishment of the first ever comprehensive rescue service for the citizens of Peshawar, its a shame that such had to be thought of only when we were plagued by terrorism, but nevertheless it is a service that is highly valued and has begun providing care in the best form that Peshawar would have ever seen.
Rescue 1122 “The leading Humanitarian service of Pakistan”(2) is a comprehensive humanitarian service, its roots were sown in Punjab, and that is where the trainees, the fire squad, the paramedics and other team members receive their training as well. The majority of the service provider in KP have received their training from the training institution in Punjab.
It is certainly a breath of fresh air that the Ambulances respond to emergencies, sent through calls received at the Headquarter call center, where trained triage staff and a supervisor covers the in-comings 24 hours a day 7 days a week, ambulances have a response time of under 10 minutes to most of the emergencies, may that be traffic accidents, strokes, cardiac emergencies or the menace of our society, terrorism. It is commendable that they have achieved this even in the busiest and congested cities in Pakistan (3).
Finding an ambulance, let alone one with a trained technician and equipment has always been a rarity in the past, it is surprising how much we as a nation are capable of achieving when we put our efforts and sincerity to it, the association’s (aphcp) main bias is towards providing health care, and that is where most of our questions and interest were. There are at present 28 ambulances and 12 stations all across Peshawar, the ambulances are fully equipped with defibrillators, spinal boards and facilities to triply immobilize patients, the days of dragging a patient from the arms and legs across an accident site are long gone, it was certainly a happy moment for us when we found out that the ambulance technicians now board and triply immobilize all patients, with giving special attention to the airway, they can intubate!
Each ambulance has two technicians and one driver, something that is even a rarity in the U.K were it is mostly only a pair.
There has been some anecdotal evidence and stories / feedback from people in Peshawar, how many have called the rescue 1122 service because of emergencies in their homes, and they have pleasantly found the ambulance along with technicians in under ten minutes, some even claiming that the response time was 3 minutes!
With the availability and ease of service has come misuse from the people, many telephoning and asking for food delivery, perhaps this will change with time and education, it does need a positive portrayal in media and it does deserve encouragement, it is with services as these that we become a caring nation, a nation that can achieve great feats.
The service has taken 5 years to reach its current status, and it is improving and expanding by the day, it has received the vision and dedication of its director general Dr. Asad Ali Khan and his dedicated team, it is now providing safety courses, BLS and other life support courses to organisations, it will in the future begin to deliver health and safety overviews and by law will change things for the better, safety in workplace, safety at public places are all in its vision for the future, it provides specialized urban search and rescue services, the services are most commendable, and we hope to see more improvements in this as well as in the rest of the elective and acute health sector in KP. Perhaps the establishment of a well equipped and highly skilled Family Medicine Physicians are needed to link the chain.
Rescue 1122 Punjab Rescue 1122 KP
1. 28 October 2009 Peshawar bombing wikipedia2016 [updated 29 January 2016; cited 2016 23 february]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/28_October_2009_Peshawar_bombing.
2. : Punjab Emergency Service [cited 2016 23rd February ]. Available from: http://www.rescue.gov.pk/.
3. Ali Z, Shah SAA, Hussain A. Growing Traffic in Peshawar: An Analysis of Causes and Impacts. South Asian Studies. 2012;27(2):409.