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September 4, 2013

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One call center for all ambulances

Shanghai will have a unified call center for ambulances by the end of this month.

The city has one call center for downtown areas and another nine centers for the suburbs. But by the end of this month, all emergency calls will be served by a single dispatch and management platform, the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission said yesterday.

The emergency phone number for ambulance is 120.

The move follows a July 16 incident when a Fengxian District ambulance call center failed to respond on time because of confusion over which district the accident took place.

The delay in dispatching an ambulance led to the death of one of the crash victims.

The authorities have also divided the ambulances into groups with different staff and equipment on board for emergency and non-emergency service.

Ambulance for emergencies will be equipped with advanced pre-hospital diagnosis and treatment machines, medication and doctors, while those taking discharged patients home will only have a driver.

Patients being moved between hospitals will have a nurse traveling with them.

In the future, ambulance for patients heading home will have to be reserved.

The local health authorities said this was the only way to deal with the shortage of doctors for emergencies. Most of the ambulance doctors have been quitting over low pay, heavy workload, poor benefits and a lack of career advancement. Between 2009 and 2012, the city recruited 311 ambulance doctors only to see 234 walk away from the job.

Shanghai has been expanding its ambulance service. The city right now has 616 ambulances, which means one ambulance for every 40,000 people which is higher than the national standard. But Shanghai has 23.8 million residents, including 3.67 million people over 60 years old, pushing the need to have more ambulances.



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