Passive is the word that quite accurately describes the country’s emergency response system. Typically, possessing such an attitude would result in the firing of employees working for an emergency response team. In Pakistan, however, such attitudes on the part of emergency response personnel seem to be the norm. Recent reports have revealed the lackadaisical dealings of those working for the emergency helpline Rescue 1122, based in Karachi.
The way Rescue 1122 works in Karachi highlights the many shortcomings of those in charge of the country that an emergency hotline is unable to respond to life and death cases such as heart attacks. That the helpline often directs those trying to access its services to other emergency services leads to an obvious problem that citizens would face during an emergency: wasting time searching for the appropriate service to call, despite the fact that in life-threatening situations, it is often only a matter of minutes before death occurs or there is irreparable damage to vital organs. There is a need to revamp the entire system instead of playing blame games over the shortcomings of Rescue 1122 in Karachi and responding meekly to inquiries about effective services.
First, appoint a separate medical response crew so that citizens have a reliable service to call rather than having a service that, though available, willfully neglects calls. Secondly, do the math. An emergency service with only 10 telephone lines is highly inadequate for a city of well over 20 million people. Also, add a proportionate number of staff to man the telephones. The very essence of the mission of an emergency response team is to respond to all calls of distress so as to mitigate harm and loss of human life. When the authorities start caring about citizens and establish an effective and helpful emergency response service in all cities, tending to every call, no matter the nature of the emergency and dispatching the appropriate type of help, is when we take steps towards becoming a progressive nation rather than one that is stuck in primitive systems.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2015.
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