1-2-9-8 – it’s an easy number to remember and at least in Powai-Mumbai, one that could save a life. Here’s the story behind 1-2-9-8 from a woman member of its founding team.
Today, Sweta Mangal holds positions in three organizations, each of which is a social venture that she has co-founded. She is Co-founder/CEO,- Dial 1298 for Ambulance -Trustee, Lifesupporters Institute of Health Sciences -Chairperson, Mangal Newton School-Beawar, Rajasthan. Backtracking to her childhood, Sweta hails from Beawar, a small town in Rajasthan. She is a Gurukul Scholar in Leadership and Excellence from London School of Economics, UK.After completing her MBA, she was in no doubt about where her future lay. Sweta was determined to return to India, as she harboured within her the passion to ‘make a difference’ in some way in her home country. After returning, she worked for seven years in the corporate sector – with Marico, Zee and Tata AIG Life Insurance after which she went with her dream and passion.
It was during her stint with Tata AIG Life in 2003 that her friend Shaffi Mather approached her with an idea – to start an ambulance service in Mumbai modeled around 911 of US and 999 of UK. Spurred by the idea, Sweta pooled her limited resources with four friends’ savings. Together, they founded the Dial 1298 For Ambulance project to offer emergency services through Advanced Life Support (ALS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances in India.
A pilot phase with one ambulance was implemented in Mumbai from April 2004 onwards. This was scaled up to 10 ALS ambulances and a state-of-the-art Ambulance Control Room, which were formally launched in May, 2005. Today, the service operates 51 ambulances in Mumbai and 30 ambulances across seven districts in Kerela and 10 in Patna with the Govt. of Bihar under Public Private Partnersip.
Sweta shares, “Ambulance services were very disorganized, there were small providers with 2-3 ambulances, but with no call-in central number, no call center concept, and no differentiation between an ALS and BLS ambulance. When we started, Mumbai had 1400 registered ambulances of which only 100 were put to good use, and of which only 12 were life support ambulances. In India, ambulances are mostly used to carry dead bodies. Sadly, people only think of calling an ambulance when someone dies not when someone needs to be saved.”
User fees are levied accordingly to the patients’ choice of hospital.
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Dial 1298 for ambulance.