What Does 1298 Mean to You?

Last Saturday night I looked out the window to find a set of red and yellow ambulance lights illuminating the block from a couple houses down. Seeing the flashing lights, whether the ambulance is set in front of a home or speeding down the street manoeuvring through traffic, always brings a mixed feeling; it’s tragic because someone needs help, but there’s also hope because you know that help is arriving.

Dial ‘108’ and Dial ‘1298’ are programs in India operated by Ziqitza Health Care Limited (ZHL), a private, 24×7, 365 days a year, ambulance service established by entrepreneurs to address the lack of emergency medical services available.

In addition to having emergency medicine and life-saving equipment on board their vehicles, ZHL trains doctors, EMTs, drivers and helpers on First Aid and basic life support techniques needed to stabilize patients before arrival to the hospital. Each ambulance is supported by the latest vehicle tracking via GPS and telephonic switch and computer integration accessed through a common toll free number; Dial ‘108’ is for emergency in Bihar, Rajasthan, Trivandrum and Punjab, where ZHL works with the state government by providing the region’s ambulance services and Dial ‘1298’, operating in Mumbai and Kerala, is their direct business to consumer line, where the patient calls ZHL directly for an ambulance.

In addition to their core business, ZHL has developed:

  • Women’s and Senior’s Help Line: Collaborating with NGOs, Dial ‘1298’, directs women and seniors in distress to NGOs that can assist and counsel the caller 24×7
  • First Aid Training: Lifesupporters Institute of Health Sciences (LIHS) is the training arm for support staff of Dial ‘1298’ with the mission of building a trained cadre of emergency medical service professionals
  • Health Check Up Camps: Set up at local parks and temples, this health awareness campaign offers services including blood pressure and blood sugar tests, and general consultancy

An interesting business model, Dial ‘1298’ operates through cross subsidy. This design creates access to emergency ambulance service to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it; fares paid by affluent patients going by choice to a private hospital subsidizes those going by choice to public hospitals. Services are free to all accident victims. Amazing!

Thank you ZHL for making our world wonderful!

LET ME KNOW, REPLY BELOW: How do you feel when you see an ambulance with its siren on?

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