Emergency medical services and cultural determinants of an emergency in Karachi, Pakistan

Junaid A. Razzak, David C. Cone, Rifat Rehmani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives. The study was conducted to understand the prehospital system in karachi, the mode of transport that adult inpatients use to reach the emergency departments (eds), and the barriers to the use of ambulances. Methods. The study consisted of two parts. The first part involved interviewing the administrators of major ambulance services in karachi. The second part consisted of a structured interview of randomly selected adult inpatients admitted to one government and one private hospital. Results. Seven ambulance service administrators were interviewed. The interviews revealed that ambulances in karachi are mainly involved in transporting patients from hospital to hospital or to home. A large number of calls are for transporting dead bodies. A total of 92 patients were interviewed (58 male, 34 female). Admission complaints included abdominal pain (22), blunt trauma (11), penetrating trauma (3), chest pain (6), shortness of breath (4), hematemesis (3), acute focal weakness (4), high fever (4), and other (32). The most common mode of transport to the ed was taxi (53, 58%), followed by private car (21, 23%). Specific reasons for not using ambulances included a perception that the patient was not sick enough (34, 45%), slow response of the ambulance services (17, 23%), not knowing how to find one (8, 11%), and the high cost (6, 8%). Conclusion. In case of a medical emergency, most people in karachi do not use ambulances. The reasons for this low usage include not only poor accessibility, but also cultural barriers and lack of education in recognition of danger signs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-316
Number of pages5
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Ambulances
  • Emergency medical services
  • International ems
  • Karachi, pakistan


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