Waseem Raza joined Rescue 1122 Peshawar in 2012 as an ambulance driver. He was on duty when a bomb exploded near Scheme Chowk on September 19, 2012.
“I was the first to rush to the scene. Dead bodies and human remains were all over the place, I was in shock, what could I do?” said Raza. People were reluctant to come forward to help the injured, fearing a second attack, he recalled. That day 12 people died, and 22 were critically injured.
Official data from Peshawar shows Rescue 1122 was busier in 2012 than 2011. The emergency service rescued and hospitalised 4,639 individuals. Of these, 1,014 were involved in road accidents, 2,632 in medical emergencies, 465 in fire-related incidents, 32 in building-collapse cases, 65 in bomb blasts, 132 in crime emergencies, 131 in drowning incidents, 72 were dead before reaching the hospital while 96 individuals expired later.
The number rescued and hospitalised was comparatively lower in 2011 – a total of 4,075. Of these 527 were involved in road accidents, 348 in fire-related incidents, 22 in building-collapse cases, 55 in crime emergencies, 45 in bomb blasts, 7 in drowning cases, 1,401 in episodes of hospitalisation, 1,187 in medical emergencies, 427 people were shot, 39 were dead before reaching the hospital while 17 died later.
According to Rescue 1122 spokesperson Urooj Sherazi, there are seven rescue stations around Peshawar in which 500 personnel work round the clock to respond to emergencies in the city.
Sherazi, however, said that when an ambulance or fire brigade responds to “fake calls”, it delays their response to actual emergencies elsewhere. He appealed to the public to stop such misuse of Rescue 1122 services.
This is a region where militants attack regularly, busying the rescue service phone lines unnecessarily puts lives at risk and a recent strategy of tracing fake calls has been implemented, maintained Sherazi.
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Emergency Rescue Service 1122 was established on August 19, 2010, with the aim to assist the public following acts of terrorism, crime or other mishaps in the province.
The provincial government has given priority to Rescue 1122 services following a spate of terrorist attacks in the city. On July 16, 2012, K-P Assembly Speaker Kiramatullah Khan passed the Emergency Rescue Service bill, 2012 through which employees of the organisation have been regularised.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2013.
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