It is seventeen years of service to humanity. Commonly known as Rescue 1122, Punjab Emergency Service is the organisation that has and continues to provide a sense of safety to millions of citizens of Pakistan. The almost two-decade journey of continuous efforts was started from scratch by Dr Rizwan Naseer with the support of the then chief minister of Punjab Chaudhry Pervez Elahi in 2004.
The comprehensive emergency preparedness, response and prevention system was established under the Punjab Emergency Service Act, 2006 to provide the right to emergency care to all citizens without any discrimination. It started from the city of Lahore as an ambulance service, and gradually evolved into an integrated emergency services model for the whole of South Asia. Today, Rescue 1122 is available in all 36 districts of Punjab and is being replicated at the tehsil level and other provinces of Pakistan.
One of the main reasons for the success of 1122 service is the Emergency Services Academy, which was established on modern lines with purpose-built simulators for sustainable human resource development in the field of emergency management. So far, this academy has trained over 20,000 emergency services personnel across Pakistan, organised ten National Rescue Challenge, five National CERTs/Volunteers Challenge, and one SAARC Rescue Challenge.
The 1122 rescue service has become a leading emergency service of South Asia after getting international certification from the United Nations in the field of search and rescue. The support of the United Nations INSARAG, UNOCHA Pakistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and NDMA Pakistan is highly appreciated in the endeavour to get international certification.
The successful model of Punjab’s Emergency Service was presented in the 16th Regional Consultative Committee on the invitation of the Ministry of the Interior and Safety of the Republic of South Korea, and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre for financing resilient development in Asia and the Pacific region. The organisation extended its cooperation to promote regional cooperation for emergency preparedness and effective response, especially in developing countries.
The model of the emergency medical rescue services of Pakistan has also been presented to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states. Among the SCO member states, the teams of Pakistan, China, and Russia are UN INSARAG classified. The Pakistan rescue team is the first UN INSARAG certified team in South Asia. Pakistan extended its cooperation for organising the SCO Member States Rescue Challenge to assist other countries in the region for emergency medical and rescue training.
Today, on October 15, the Punjab Emergency Service has completed 17 years of serving humanity. In these 17 years, despite all challenges, over 9.9 million victims of emergencies were rescued. The first modern fire rescue service was established, which responded to over 175,000 fire incidents, and saved assets worth over PKR 511 billion with a timely emergency response and professional firefighting. The Motorbike Rescue Service set a new standard of emergency response, dealing with over 80,000 emergencies in nine divisional headquarters with the average response time of four minutes. The Patient Transfer Service was provided to over 900,000 patients, covering lower and higher health facilities. The Community Emergency Response Teams have been established in all the Union Councils of Punjab to assist in the management of emergencies and safety promotion. The Rescue Cadet Corps has been started for training of students in educational institutions to have socially responsible youth and a first aider in every home.
A great initiative of Chief Minister of Punjab Sardar Usman Ahmad Khan Buzdar is the Air Ambulance Service for the provision of emergency services to citizens of far flung and hilly terrain areas. As per approval, 10 gyrocopters shall be provided to all the divisions of Punjab.
All officers and employees of the Punjab Emergency Service are grateful for the great patronage of the former chief minister, Speaker of Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, the contribution of Governor of Punjab Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, and the government of the former chief minister Shehbaz Sharif who expanded this service in all districts of Punjab, and regularised employees in their tenure.
The contribution of the international organisations-WHO, UK’s International Emergency Team, Scottish Fire Service, Strathclyde Fire Service, and VSO Pakistan ICRC-for providing time-to-time support in different fields to maintain the service standard as per international standards is highly appreciated.
The history of the Punjab Emergency Service is incomplete without the great services of its shuhada (martyrs). We salute the shaheed rescuers for their exemplary services to serve humanity. We thank the Government of Pakistan for presenting the gallantry award to the shaheed rescuers of the Ghakkar Plaza operation, Sitara-e-Imtiaz to the Director General, and Tamgha-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 always. Amen.