National Centre for Emergency Care (EKAB) | Reinforcement plan – Contribution of the Hellenic Armed Forces and the Fire Service
Defence Redefined
Published on 03/07/2023 at 14:30

The changes but also the upgrading of the National Centre for Emergency Care (EKAB) are among the main goals of the new government, especially after the tragic events that took place the previous weeks, when patients died because they were waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

According to the announcement, the Fire Service and the Hellenic Armed Forces are called to fill the gaps of the large shortages in EKAB with the deployment of ambulances’ mixed crews.

According to the plan, Hellenic Army and Fire Service personnel are going to take on the role of ambulance drivers, aiming to have more ambulances of EKAB, but also of the health centers available at any time.

This plan is to be implemented on islands and in remote areas, places that are facing the most serious problems because of insufficient personnel throughout the country, which is still a major problem of the country’s health system.

Specifically, the Prime Minister’s decision to cover the gaps of EKAB is to recruit the drivers of vehicles of the Hellenic Armed Forces and the Fire Service, who will be placed at the disposal of the Health Regions. With their participation, new monthly organizational charts will be drawn up for the routes of ambulances for the Health Centers and Polyclinics of islands and remote areas.

It is the only way, according to the decision-makers of the Ministry of Health, to cover these gaps safely in the middle of the summer season, so that ambulances, which are decommissioned or not fully operating due to their understaffing by rescuers and crews, can operate in 24-hour rotating shifts.

The Hellenic Armed Forces and Fire Service have a sufficient number of specially-trained vehicle drivers, so as to cover current emergency social needs.

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According to information from, the operational plan is about to apply, as it requires the adjustment of an existing Law, which was passed but never implemented.

This is Law 4368/2016 (Government Gazette A 21/21-2-2016). Specifically, article 78 of the said Law provides that in the areas where there are Health Centers, which do not have the personnel to operate their ambulances or whose personnel is not sufficient for the full coverage of patient transport, may use either Fire Service personnel or personnel of the Municipalities, who drive the ambulances belonging to the Health Center, upon request.

As of today, the “Municipalities PERSONNELis expected to be replaced by the drivers of the Hellenic Armed Forces. The said personnel must have a professional driver’s license and be rapidly trained in basic first aid.

The transfer of patients will be accompanied by health personnel from the respective Health Center, the Law states. Further details on the training of these crews are expected to be regulated by a circular of EKAΒ in cooperation with the Headquarters of the Fire Service and the Hellenic National Defence General Staff.

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It is worth noting that the ambulances with mixed crews belong to the Health Centers of the islands, but EKAB has the exclusive responsibility of managing them and carries out all control and coordination actions, especially in emergency conditions and crises.

This specific regulation is a “firefighting” intervention to solve the problem. This solution will be activated on small islands and in remote areas, which are not easily reached by ambulances, the crews of 12 EKAB Branches (Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, Larissa, Kavala, Ioannina, Lamia, Alexandroupoli, Tripoli, Kozani, and Mytilini) and its individual Sectors.

The government aspires that the uniformed soldiers and firemen drivers will provide a valuable alternative solution and contribute to the work of other working drivers of the Health Centers, who have been left alone for months covering 24-hour shifts in on-call emergency services.

These drivers will be accompanied by nurses and doctors from the Health Centers which are already operating on a 24-hour basis.

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