|This project aims to provide emergency health care to those people who are poor, distressed and in need. The Emergency Response Unit (ERU) responds to people in crisis and in any need of physical or psychological emergency response and support. It runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This project includes the rescue of abandoned children, trafficked children and women, people who have been involved in traffic accidents or mentally ill people who live on the streets.
Psychological support is provided to people if required, as well as hospitalisation and treatment in cases of poor and homeless people. The service also includes repatriation of rescued victims of trafficking and follow-up support for them.
Another component entails developing an effective networking and referral system. It works towards networking between the local police stations and hospitals and rehabilitation centres. The project responds to the emergency calls from the police, fire brigade and clubs and other key stakeholders.
The project is running successfully under all 48 police stations of Kolkata police and district, and West Bengal police stations around Kolkata. The HOPE ambulance is “a beacon of light”, says Maureen Forrest. Over the past year the ERU responded to 426 emergency calls, out of which 388 cases were followed up further. Seventeen homeless mentally ill people were sent to rehabilitation homes for psychiatric treatment. Out of 222 cases hospitalised, 133 were restored back with their families, 40 were placed with rehabilitation centres/halfway homes, and finally 16 people are still undergoing treatment at hospitals. There is a separate Crisis Intervention Unit for girls and boys. Here they provide support to the rescued children and provide them with emergency treatment, after which a counsellor is brought in to work with the child.
The challenges faced with this project are ongoing and include:
Hope Kolkata Foundation runs its own ambulances, conducting a night run seeking out people in need of help. All of the staff takes turns on the night run, so they all become familiar with the areas where the poor congregate, and even with particular individuals. It also works on this emergency response project with HIVe, one of its local partners.