HCM City plans changes to 115 medical emergency hotline hinh anh 1Illustrative image (Source: thanhnien.com)
HCM City (VNA) - Despite much effort by HCM City authorities, the 115 medical emergency service has not really become popular.

Three emergency centres exist at Trung Vuong, Binh Tan and Saigon hospitals that are allowed to take advantage of the "golden hour" to save patients, and three more are set to come up at Thu Duc, Hoc Mon and 7.

But not many are aware of the service, while even those who know are often reluctant to use it.

For instance, an 85-year-old man in District 11 became short of breath a month ago, but his children did not call 115 and took him by their own car instead to Cho Ray Hospital. There he was diagnosed with heart failure and severe pneumonia.

His daughter said: "I had no information about the 115 medical emergency service. In such an emergency situation, using our car is faster than the ambulances."

A 32-year-old woman in Tan Phu district whose infant son had shortness of breath also did not call the emergency centres because she had never heard of them, and took a taxi instead to the local district hospital.

Dr Tang Chi Thuong, Deputy Head of the city Department of Health, said the emergency service had failed to become popular with the public.

There was a shortage of doctors and nurses to man the ambulances now, he admitted, which meant ambulances could often not be dispatched immediately.

It was for this reason that his department planned to initiate a programme to improve the service, and the city People's Committee recently approved it, he said.

Under the project, paramedics would respond to and provide preliminary treatment in the ambulance to patients who call 115 before taking them to the nearest hospital, he said.

"It is expected more and more people will use the emergency services after [this]."

The department was due to set up paramedic teams which were not required to be doctors and to provide training for two years, he said.

Dr Rafi Kot, CEO of Family Medical Practice Vietnam, a private medical facility, said every emergency system could be improved.

The city should invest more money in the system including for new vehicles with sufficient equipment, he said.

People could die if emergency care was not provided in time, he added.

In face of the local emergency system's current limitations, Family Medical has planned to set up an emergency medical dispatcher instruction system in hope that patients or their relatives can call for emergency medical advice as they wait for an ambulance.-VNA