Imagine you or your loved one is hurt. You need to get to the hospital right away. The operator on the phone tells you help will be there in 20 minutes. Twenty minutes? Each second passes like a lifetime. The ambulance finally arrives and the staff helps you inside. You pull away with red lights flashing and the siren wailing…only to get stuck on the main road.
Do you survive?
Everyday, traffic in Delhi blocks all the city roads making it difficult to move. Because of the choked city routes, emergency medical help is withheld.
Centralized Accident Trauma Services is Delhi’s most used ambulance service.
Laxman Singh Rana, the Administration Officer of Operations, spoke of how traffic blocks the way of ambulances. “Dedicated lanes are not available at present, and so because of that our ambulances are not able to respond by reaching on time, or getting the patient to the hospital on time.”
Due to this reason, the ambulance staff is trained in basic life support techniques ranging from ventilator use, defibrillator use, how to use different types of stretchers, etc. “They should be able to at least stabilize the patient.”
Almost daily, these ambulances are stuck in transit- but coordination with the Police can often clear the way. When stuck with a critical patient on board, the staff will coordinate with PCRs along the route who will redirect the traffic in an attempt to make transit easier.
GIMME SOME SPACE
Fahim Khan has driven his ambulance for over 20 years. “Commercial vehicles give way, but auto drivers always try to cut ahead.”
How can this problem be solved?
“One solution is introducing special emergency corridors. The public must also be aware of the fact that ambulances be given the right of way.”
The lack of response on Delhi roads is disheartening.
I remember an experience of being stuck in a traffic jam with the sounds of an ambulance blaring in the back. My auto driver was frustrated, “I want to give space, but I can’t even MOVE.”
This week Traffic Police in both Gurgaon and Mumbai have launched campaigns to give ambulances the right of way. Citizens have pledged to the cause, promising to move to the left when they hear the sound of an ambulance siren.
The lives of emergency patients depends upon the people around them. Imagine if it was you in that ambulance.
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.