An emergency medical system is finally in place in Croatia, where for years there were no separate facilities for urgent medical treatment.
Under the system, hundreds of technicians are now on 24-hour call across the country, able to explain to often panic-stricken callers what steps to take until emergency aid arrives. They work alongside physicians out of more than 20 newly- established emergency medical centers around the country, from which medics are now dispatched at a moment’s notice, in new ambulances equipped with the latest medical tools.
“There used to be no standardized approach on how to advise people before the emergency team arrives, so these are the things that are buying time for our teams,” says Branka Tomljanovic, a physician and trainer for the Croatian Institute of Emergency Medicine, set up by the country to implement the new emergency medical system.
The system was funded through a World Bank-supported project, aimed at improving the efficiency and outcomes of Croatia’s Emergency Medical Services and at strengthening the capacity of the country’s Ministry of Health to develop and implement medical directives of the European Union.
In addition to providing new medical centers, new equipment, and new ambulances, the emergency health system has led to the establishment across the country – and for the very first time – of Emergency Departments within Croatian hospitals.
That means that patients with serious conditions are now treated almost immediately, on site, when before they were sent to specialized departments on other floors, or even other hospitals, says veteran doctor Snjezana Klancir, who works at one of the newly-established emergency departments in the Croatian city of Krapina.