The Malaysian Health Ministry is pilot testing a new ambulance-response scheme wherein a certain number of ambulances and medical responders will be placed in a particular ‘emergency hotspot’ to ensure that medical assistance will arrive in less than 15 or even 10 minutes.

St John Ambulance Malaysia (SJAM) and Malaysia Red Crescent Society (MRCS) will provide the additional vehicles, according to The Star.

The hotspots are areas with high-density population, or where public gatherings mostly happen, like mosques and plazas. The locations have been determined through analysis of calls coming from Malaysia Emergency Response Services 999 (MERS 999).

Currently, the scheme has 100 ambulances located in various hotspots, according to Datuk Burnard Yeo Kim Thong, Selangor state commander and secretary general of SJAM. These ambulances come with automated external defibrillators.

The cost per hotspot placement using existing resources amounts to RM250,000, compared to RM400,000 needed to get a new ambulance complete with contraptions.

The Health Ministry is presently training emergency medical responders.

The government will implement the scheme on a nationwide scale by stages in the next five years.

Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Mohammad Nor, head of the pilot test and HTAR emergency consultant, said the scheme is part of the public service delivery transformation initiatives in the Government Transformation Report 2014.

In Malaysia, the emergency response time sometimes goes up to 45 minutes.

According to an article in the Journal of Medical Emergency Services (JEMS), response within 8 minutes for 90 percent of the cases is considered the ‘gold standard.’

Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai, Health Ministry deputy director-general, said the ultimate aim of the new scheme is to bring the level of ambulance response time in Malaysia to international standards, which is less than 10 to 15 minutes.

He added they were in talks with the Fire and Rescue Department, which has 200 ambulances, to join the scheme.

The programme began on 2014 and initially involved five hospitals in primary locations in Klang Valley in 2014. It was later adopted in Malacca and Penang.

Dr Sinnadurai urges people to refrain from worrying about long ambulance response time now that many are stationed in key areas to reach people in medical need faster.

Between November 2014 and September 2015, response teams dealt with 956 cases in two local hotspots, with an average of 70 to 100 per month.

A 2015 study in Singapore, which analyzed response times to trauma incidents, ruled out that weather, traffic, and place of the incident were significant factors affecting the ambulance response time, in which traffic condition on the road was the biggest factor. MIMS

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