Karachi    -    Emergency medicine experts from various national and international health institutions Friday called for establishment of a ‘National Emergency Center’ and ‘National Emergency Call Number’ to coordinate emergency services and response in case of natural or man-made calamities in the country, saying coordinated efforts by emergency service providing institutions could save hundreds of precious lives and prevent life-long disabilities after disasters and incidents of terror.

They were speaking at scientific session on ‘Emergency Care’ as part of the 54th Annual Symposium of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC), which was chaired by the eminent neurosurgeon and former Executive Director of JPMC Prof. Rasheed Jooma and co-chaired by Dr Seemin Jamali, the serving executive director of the JPMC.

The experts also urged the authorities to establish a ‘National Trauma Registry’ in the country to ascertain the causes of deaths and injuries due to accidents and trauma and suggested that emergency response drills should be conducted on regular basis in the mega cities to prepare the emergency and medical services as well people in case of any natural or man-made disasters, saying trained and prepared emergency-care providers could prove more effective in minimising loss of lives and limbs.

Experts from King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center Saudi Arabia, Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), Indus Hospital Network, International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) and JPMC made detailed presentations on different aspects of dealing with medical emergencies and presented their recommendations for improving emergency healthcare, especially in mega cities like Karachi.

Speaking on the occasion, Eminent Neurosurgeon Prof Rasheed Jooma said government should immediately establish ‘National Emergency Center’ and issue a ‘National Emergency Call Number’ on the pattern of ‘911’ so that in case of any emergency, people could approach the emergency service and the experts available at the emergency response could direct them to relevant departments and coordinate emergency response in case of any emergency.

“At the moment, doctors and paramedics at the emergency departments of hospitals are not prepared for any emergency and they only come to know about the nature of injuries and trauma after an accident when patients are presented before them. There should be a coordination between emergency services including ambulance services and casualty departments of medical institutions, which can result in providing better emergency care to people in distress”, Prof Jooma said.

He maintained that in cities like Karachi, the city district government or the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation should take the lead, bring all the emergency medical services including the ambulance services under one command, should issue an emergency call number and coordinate emergency response in case of natural or man-made disasters to improve provision of emergency care.

“In additional to that, regular exercises should be held in coordination with all the emergency care providers to deal with any mass emergency in Karachi or any other city of Pakistan”, he suggested and termed the emergency department of JPMC as the best-equipped emergency service where people from not only all parts of Karachi but also from other cities of Sindh and Balochistan come for seeking medical assistance.

Co-Chair of the session on emergency care Dr Seemin Jamali was of the view that no hospital should refuse patients requiring medical assistance in emergency and added that even the small hospitals should give the first aid to the patients in emergency and then dispatch thee to the tertiary-care centers for proper treatment.

She also called for training of medical and paramedical staff and said they should acquire communication skills to counsel attendants of the patients to avoid any backlash or violence.