18 years ago, under the political ownership of then Chief Minister Punjab Ch. Pervaiz Elahi, Emergency Service Rescue 1122, was started as an ambulance service by Dr. Rizwan Naseer in 2004 from the historic city of Lahore which gradually evolved into an integrated emergency services model for South Asia.
About a two-decade journey of untiring efforts of rescuers provided a sense of safety to the millions of citizens of Pakistan. It was truly a humanitarian initiative to provide the right to emergency care to all citizens without any discrimination. An integrated model of the emergency ambulance, rescue, and fire, disaster, and community emergency response teams was established under the Punjab Emergency Service Act, of 2006.
Today Rescue 1122 is available in all districts and tehsils of Punjab, and it is being replicated in other provinces of Pakistan. One of the main reasons for the success of the service is the Emergency Services Academy. It was established on modern lines with purpose-built simulators for sustainable human resource development in the field of emergency/disaster management. So far, this Academy has trained over 23,000 emergency services personnel across Pakistan, organized 11 National Rescue Challenges, 6 National CERTs/Volunteers Challenges, and One SAARC Rescue Challenge. Now the rescue service has become the leading emergency service in South Asia after getting international certification from the United Nations in the field of search and rescue.
The successful model of Emergency Service Rescue 1122, Pakistan, was presented at the 16th Regional Consultative Committee (RCC) on the invitation of the Ministry of the Interior and Safety (MOIS) of the Republic of South Korea and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) for the financing resilient development in Asia and the Pacific region. Likewise, the model of the Emergency Medical Rescue Services of Pakistan has been presented to the member states of the Shangai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Rescue 1122 extended its cooperation to promote regional cooperation for emergency preparedness and effective response, especially in developing countries.
Recently, a Team of PEER (Program of Enhancement for Emergency Response) certified regional Instructors from Emergency Services Academy and Headquarters was sent to the Sri Lanka Military School of Engineering for capacity building of Sri Lanka in the field of emergency/disaster response. Similarly, specialized pieces of training have been organized for participants from Tajikistan, Syria, and other organizations in the Academy.
Today the rescue service has completed 18 years of service to humanity. During this period, despite all challenges, over 11.5 million victims of emergencies were rescued, the first modern Fire Rescue Service was established and responded to over 190,000 fire incidents, saved worth over 580 billion in losses with timely emergency response and professional firefighting. Motorbike Rescue Service set a new standard of emergency response that dealt with over 1.1 million emergencies in 9 divisional headquarters with an average response time of 4 minutes. Patient Transfer Service was provided to over 1.1 million patients from lower health facilities to higher health facilities. The Community Emergency Response Teams have been established in all Union Councils of Punjab to assist in the management of emergencies and safety promotion. Rescue Cadet Corps (RCC) has been started for training students in educational institutions to have socially responsible youth and first aiders in every home. Pak Life Saver CPR training was started to train all citizens on essential lifesaving skills to have the first aider in every home. The expansion of emergency service to all tehsils and expansion of Motorbike Rescue Service to all districts was done by CM Punjab to provide emergency services at the doorsteps of the citizens.
It is pertinent to mention that all officers and employees are grateful for the great ownership of Ch. Pervaiz Elahi, the contribution of the Ex-Governor Punjab Ch. Muhammad Sarwar and Scottish Parliamentarian Hanzala Malik and former governments who expanded this service in all districts and regularized employees in their tenure. The contribution of international Organizations like WHO, UNOCHA, International Emergency Team UK, Scottish Fire Service, Strathclyde Fire Service, Republic of Turkiye, VSO Pakistan, ICRC, and Aga Khan University Karachi for providing time-to-time support in different fields to maintain service standard as per international standards is highly appreciated.
The history of service is incomplete without the great services of rescue martyrs. Salute to the shaheed rescuers for their exemplary services to serve humanity. Thanks to the Government of Pakistan for presenting the Gallantry award to the shaheed rescuers of the Ghakkar Plaza Operation and Sitara-i-Imtiaz to the Director General and Tamga-e-Imtiaz and Governor Award to Rescue Officers. The journey to serve humanity continues. May Allah give strength to all of us to maintain the standard of Service and serve humanity with the same passion. Ameen
The author is the Chief Public Information Officer at Punjab Emergency Service.