M.L.Melly Maitreyi

They do not even have police patrol vehicles, forget dedicated ambulances

About 60-70 per cent of deaths occur due to accidents on State and National Highways

State accounts for the highest number of road accident deaths in the country

HYDERABAD: It is indeed a paradoxical situation. A Hyderabadi may curse as he weaves through the traffic congestion. But he does not fear for his dear life on the city roads unlike on the State and National Highways, wrought with danger.

In case of an accident in city, rushing the injured to the hospital is not a Herculean task. With the Emergency Management and Research Institute’s 108 ambulance service likely to reach the accident spot soon enough and other modes of transport also available.

Justifying the growing anxiety while commuting on the highways is the rising number of fatal accidents on these stretches. God forbid there is an accident, none knows when the injured would get the much needed medical help.

The situation is ironical! While State is adding more and more ambulances to the EMRI fleet that caters only to the needy in cities and towns, the highways do not even have police patrol vehicles, forget about dedicated ambulances while the maximum deaths in the State are due to accidents on highways.

The neglect of road safety on highways earned State the dubious distinction of accounting for the highest number of road accident deaths in the country. If the number was 30 deaths per day in the State in 2005, it rose to 36 in 2006 and 40 in 2007, according to official statistics.

There are more disconcerting figures. AP has just two per cent of total road network of the country, 6.7 per cent of national highways, 7.9 per cent of registered motor vehicles (much less than that of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu). Yet it accounts for 11.6 per cent of total deaths in road accidents, the highest in the country.

While statistics reveal that more number of fatal accidents take place on State and national highways measuring 8,271 km and 4,472 km, accounting for 3,444 and 4,478 deaths respectively, these stretches totally go unmanned in the absence of patrol vehicles and dedicated ambulances. Ideally each patrol vehicle should be entrusted with monitoring 50 km of these stretches, say experts.

Consultant Neurosurgeon, Apollo Hospitals, Dr. D. Raja Reddy says out of 40 accidental deaths per day in the State, only one is in Hyderabad. It is clear that about 60 to 70 per cent of accidental deaths occur on State and National Highways and 75 per cent of them are preventable if only these persons are rushed to the hospitals within the ‘golden hour’. Of 20 accident cases brought to Osmania and Gandhi General Hospitals per day, only three are brought by 108 service.

A study of 29 accident cases admitted in NIMS over a five-day period revealed that the average time of admission into hospital from the time of accident is eight hours. “It is unacceptable. If not within the golden hour, the delay should not be more than four hours,” says Dr. Reddy.

Quoting more statistics, Dr. Reddy says, 60 per cent injured die within first four hours, 20 per cent die after reaching hospital. At least 60 per cent of deaths can be saved by bringing them at the earliest to designated hospitals that are manned and equipped to tackle emergency cases.