Ambulances reach emergencies faster

Response times for ambulances in emergency situations have been reduced since local health authorities introduced a separate hotline for non-emergency calls.
Xu Cheng / Xinmin Evening News

An emergency medical worker with the Shanghai Medical Emergency Center adjusts a multi-functional device within an ambulance which integrates GPS data, information from dispatchers and video surveillance. 

Response times for ambulances in emergency situations have been reduced since local health authorities introduced a separate hotline for non-emergency calls.

According to information released yesterday by the Shanghai Medical Emergency Center, ambulances can reach downtown emergency victims in 12 to 13 minutes, two minutes faster than before.

The reduction comes as a new hotline, 962120, launched in late April takes pressure off the 120 emergency hotline intended for first-aid requests. In the past, non-emergencies accounted for one-fifth of the calls to 120. These calls were blamed for constraining the resources and efficiency of ambulances and other emergency medical services. Many non-emergency calls are requests from discharged patients asking to be taken from hospital back to their homes.

“Previously, people had to make one or two calls while calling 120. Now emergency phone calls can be picked up immediately as non-emergency requests are transferred to 962120,” said Zhu Qinzhong, director of the center.

In the first half of this year, local ambulances responded to 403,000 calls, mainly for elderly people with medical emergencies like heart attacks or strokes, or people with trauma.

According to Zhu, the emergency center is in the midst of upgrading its ambulances with the latest equipment, including new stair stretchers, respirators and cardiopulmonary resuscitators.

These improvements and upgrades come as Shanghai faces increased demand for ambulance services while temperatures soar.

Shanghai has a network of 157 pre-hospital medical stations, and one ambulance for every 30,000 residents.

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