Emergency? Call 108

If you live in an industrialized country, you know what to do if you get in a car accident. You pick up the phone and call 911 (in the states), 112 (in Europe), 000 (Australia) or another distinct number you could recite in your sleep. Someone answers the call, you report your problem, and an ambulance, police car, and/or fire engine is dispatched to come to your aid.

In India, emergency transport service was limited until 2005. In that year, the southern Indian state Andhra Pradesh began supporting the operations of a not-for-profit organization called Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI) which operates the emergency number 108. People started hearing about this service and each state's 108 call centers may receive more than 12,000 calls every day. The most common emergencies? Deliveries are by far the most common reasons people dial 108, followed by vehicular trauma incidents, which cluster in the late afternoon and evening.

People are now calling [108 for emergency assistance](http://healthmarketinnovations.org/program/emergency-management-and-rese...) in nine states across India, and the service inspired other emergency medical services like [1298](http://healthmarketinnovations.org/program/1298-ambulance-access-all?dis...).

The public-private partnership approach allowed EMRI to scale up quickly, and the project shows the strengths of what private providers can do with government resources.

EMRI's headquarters outside Hyderabad, in Andhra Pradesh, are becoming a huge hub for training of Emergency Medical Technicians, a field so new that no licensing exam exists yet in India. EMRI has trained more than 35,000 people as paramedics and ambulance drivers--actually, "pilots", in EMRI's terminology, because they are trained to perform CPR and other minor functions in the case of large accidents like multi-car collisions.

Pranjal Kolwar, a 24-year old from Assam training in the Advanced EMT program, told us that people thought at first this service could not be free (it is, everywhere 108 is operated). Pranjal, like the other trainees we met that day, was being paid by his state to become an EMT. Even in Assam where the "kutcha" (unpaved) roads make it difficult to travel by car, EMRI ambulances fetch people to hospital. In his experience working as an EMT-Basic paramedic, he saw a lot of pregnancies, and also the aftermath of many fights. He also got a call for empathy. "A woman's husband had died at 5am," Pranjal told us, "she had two husband and her family did not know what to do. They just called 108. They called us to come and put a smile on her face. There was nothing to do, so I just listened to her."

"I feel good working here," he said.

Click [here](http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=36019&id=120157821369554) to view photos of trainees at the EMT training center, test taking in action, and an EMRI ambulance pilot.