Want rescue? Please hold indefinitely

Published: April 22, 2012

A siren blared loudly.The ambulance had finally arrived; about 25 minutes after the accident. PHOTO :NNI/FILE

I was standing in the kitchen with my mother when we heard a vehicle come to a screeching halt on the main road we live across. As I peered out of the window, I saw the red car slam into what looked like a pick-up truck. There was a loud bang and then both the vehicles turned upside down on impact.

Immediately I grabbed the phone and dialled 15.  The recorded voice of a woman asked me to hold and I did. This went on for around five precious minutes before the operator picked up.

“Hello Madam, Rescue 15.”

“Hello. There has been an accident in Block 16, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, please send an ambulance,” I spoke hurriedly.

“Just a minute madam, please hold,” he replied calmly as he shouted to someone,

Yaar aik faarm dena. Baat sun aik faarm pakrana zara!”

(Hand me a form. Listen, hand me a form)


Jee Madam, just a minute…”

Meanwhile a crowd had gathered where the vehicles lay like turtles.

“They took out the driver. He seems to be fine,” my mother told me.

Thank God, I thought.

Jitni der mein aap faarm laingay banda mar na jaye,” I attempted to get him to listen to me.

(By the time you get the form, the man might be dead.)

Jee madam what were you saying? There was an accident? Where?”

I repeated the address.

Bhai meri baat suno. Faarm bhartay rehna, aik ambulance bhej do!” I chided him again.

(Listen to me, you can fill the form later. Just send an ambulance)

Madam ajayegi ambulance bas thori der mayn.”

(Madam, it will be there in a short while.)

“Madam, where in Block 16?”

“Right across Aitchison School.” (It has been there for ages.)

“What? What did you say? Aithch? Aitchii? What?”

“Just leave it. It is right on the main road when you turn in the area.”

(In my defence I told him this because I know the Rescue 15 office is literally a two-minute drive away. First aid would have reached had it set out on foot when I called.)

“Okay madam, the mobile will be there shortly.”

I was so relieved I slammed down the phone.

By the time I got off the call, the woman who had been in one of the cars was standing outside too. She seemed shocked but otherwise fine.

A siren blared loudly. It was the ambulance. About 25 minutes after the accident. But it wasn’t required anymore. The passengers seemed to be fine and were on their way home.

But I wondered, what if they hadn’t been so lucky?

Read more by Tehmina here


Tehmina Qureshi

A journalism student who is a former sub-editer at The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    This was such a brilliant micro-snapshot of how things work …………..we muddle along but get there eventually.Recommend

  • Umair

    Even our army is not as faster as we suppose them to be. Then how come our emergency services can be fast. You should give credit to the man on the other side of phone; as he sent ambulance without asking further details for filling that FAARM.Recommend

  • Muneeb Rizwan

    haha tehmina. this is Pakistan, nothing new :pRecommend

  • Ammar

    Very sad indeed. The should have dispatched the ambulance to the accident scene immediately while all that FAAARM and paperwork completed during that.
    But here I would like to mention Chahudhry brothers of PML (Q) for starting quick emergency response service 1122 in Lahore during Musharraf era. Wherever and whatever the emergency is, their service is quick and without any hassle. Staff is friendly as well.
    Only thing ruining this, is the prank calls from some insensitive jahil people.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    Dear Moderator –

    Hi. Please delete the lady’s address from the blog. Some of the readers here are absolutely crazy. I’m sure you know, you edit comments ! For her own safety, i think the address shouldn’t be in the blog. Hope you understand my point.Thanks !Recommend

  • Pagall

    This is bitter truth.
    We are sleeping or we don’t know our RIGHTS.
    The day we come to know our rights, everything will be fine .Recommend

  • SaQiB

    Lahore and Punjab are lucky to have rescue 1122. Call em and they’d be there in less than 10 minute…. literally! I wish other cities should also establish this service……….. bravo punjab government…………Recommend

  • mrk

    In north America, despite the availability of open roads, precise gps information and efficient services, it, on average, does take about 3 to 5 minutes for emergency services to get to you. So this is not too bad.

    Second, there’s a charge for emergency visit in most North American municipalities – ranging from $50 to $350 or more per visit. Something else to thing about. Nothing, even life of death matter, is completely free.Recommend