ISLAMABAD   -  During 14 years, the Punjab Emergency Service has emerged as a comprehensive model of emergency management in Pakistan that provided basic right to timely emergency care by timely and professional emergency response, care and safe transportation to all victims without discrimination of caste, colour and creed. The scope of service has also been extended with Patient Transfer Service (PTS) and Motorbike Ambulance Service in the last two years which further facilitated helpless victims of accidents and emergencies.

Year 2018 remained year of initiatives/events for rescue service, in which first SAARC Rescue Challenge & Workshop, National Rescue Challenge for Rescuers, National Rescue Challenge for Volunteers, Disaster Response Exercises for District Emergency Officers and Rescue Safety Officers in collaboration with Punjab Boys Scout Association, two preparatory exercises of Disaster Response Force Rescue Pakistan for International External Classification (IEC) under supervision of international mentor, Capacity building of Rescue Officers as Master Trainers in Managers Training Center (MTC), Headquarters, Inauguration of Rescue Jamia Masjid at Emergency Services Academy, Inauguration of Rescue Ambulance Service College and 14 Anniversary of Rescue Service were organized in addition to National and International days related to the Service.   

In 2018, the Service has rescued 1092900 emergency victims during 1032859 rescue operations, while maintaining its average response time of seven minutes and standard in all districts of Punjab. This data shows an increase of 30 percent in the overall emergencies as compared to 794015 emergencies in 2017.Rescue service is rescuing an average 3002 victims on daily basis in Punjab and responded 760 major operations in year 2018. During last year 25% increase in number of road traffic accidents was observed across the Punjab.  Besides that Fire Rescue Service responded to 17596 fire emergencies in 2018 and saved estimated loss worth Rs 45385 million due to timely response and professional fire fighting in Punjab. Short circuits, negligence and carelessness have been observed as leading causes of fire emergencies. Yearly report of fire emergencies shows that 73 people died in 17596 fire incidents in Punjab in 2018. Compared to 2017, there has been an increase of 1141 fire emergencies in the number of fire emergencies. The official statistics revealed that majority fire incidents occurred in major districts which includes 3890 incidents in Lahore, 1715 in Faisalabad, 1008 in Gujranwala and 850 in Rawalpindi.

The middle managers have been trained as master trainers at Rescue Headquarters to execute Community Safety Program-2018 in true letter and spirit. These trainers were responsible to further impart training to their staff in their respective districts to establish Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) at Union Councils (UCs) level as per Section 5(g) of Punjab Emergency Service Act, 2006. Accordingly, the Service has mobilized 5,37,712 community members and established 4048 CERTs at UCs level during previous year in Punjab to assist the Service in safety promotion and management of emergencies.

The composition of CERT is consisting of 12 members and each member is enrolled and trained as Rescue Scout. Out of total 5,37,712 community members 325587 have been sensitized in  2779 awareness activities, 178928 have been trained on basic life support and fire safety in 2006 training sessions and  33197 Rescue Scouts have been trained. It also pertinent to mention that District Chiniot took a unique initiative and established over 65 Community Rescue Centres with community participation, whereas District Layyah with first position, Lahore with second position and Sheikhupura with third position showed extra ordinary performance in National CERTs Rescue Challenge 2018.  As per directions of the DG Recue Punjab for Year 2019, Rescue is committed to establish healthy safe and resilient communities by mobilizing the power of humanity through 1 million Rescue Scouts in Pakistan. The service will undertake evidence based research on the number and nature of emergencies, to recommend measures for prevention of emergencies.

The feedback/suggestions from the registered and trained Scouts and beneficiaries from the community would be considered as an essential tool for taking preventive measures to reduce accidents and emergencies.

Besides that, it is highly important to understand that we all are responsible to promote safety culture as we can reduce the increasing number of emergencies by little vigilance and through effective enforcement of safety laws and safe practices. 

Visible increase of road traffic accidents has necessitated reviewing the planning for road infrastructure and practices regarding road safety as Rescue Service alone is dealing 900 victims of road traffic accidents on a daily basis in Punjab. Increasing number of fire emergencies has drawn attention towards implementation of Building Code of Pakistan- Fire Safety Provisions - 2016 to reduce the risk of fire incidents. Rescue 1122 invites all motivated volunteers from community, organizations and media to be Rescue Scout and be a part noble cause to establish healthy safe and resilient communities in Pakistan.

–The writer is the Head of Community Safety & Information Wing, Punjab Emergency Service.

deeba shahnaz