Mumbai

Helping patients get to hospital on time

Saving a life: Dr. Rita Savla, founder director of Radhee Disaster and Education Foundation, says ambulance drivers can call traffic police control room for help in clearing the road.   | Photo Credit: Vinamr Raj

Mumbai: One in 10 patients in India dies on the way to hospital, simply because motorists are clueless about what to do when they see an ambulance on the road, according to the Radhee Disaster and Education Foundation.

"When I met traffic officials, they told me motorists want to help but cannot due to lack of awareness,” said Dr. Rita Savla, founder director of the foundation.

Dr. Savla is on a mission to make motorists understand the importance of giving an ambulance the right of way, and the Foundation employs people only to help with the cause. She herself has met with traffic police personnel and ambulance drivers to understand the core issue. On an average, 1500-2000 ambulances are out on the roads in Mumbai every day.

“Motorists only need to move to their left and slow down so the ambulance can get a free path to its destination. The delay makes the patients’ condition worsen, often leading to death,” says Dr. Savla.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, nearly 24,012 people die each day due to a delay in getting medical assistance. These patients have suffered heart attacks, brain haemorrhage, suicide attempts, accidents and strokes. The Foundation found — from national crime, birth and death records in January 2014 — that heart attacks, at 19% of the total, are the leading cause of death, while brain haemorrhage is fourth on the list. Early stabilisation of a brain haemorrhage patient is critical in saving his life.

Accidents are 10th on the list — nearly 4,40,042 cases are reported across the country each year, of which 1,39,091 people lose their life. The first hour after the incident, or the Golden Hour, is critical. Many accident victims wait for help at the site, and a delay costs them their life. “The reasons could range from ambulances stuck in traffic to the fire brigade not being able to reach the site on time due to traffic jams,” says Dr. Savla, who has been distributing pamphlets and putting up banners across the city to raise awareness among motorists.

Often what happens is that when motorists fail to make way, the ambulance driver drives in a zigzag manner, precipitating a traffic jam and slowing down the vehicle. “As an alert and responsible citizen, move to the left side of the road so that an ambulance can pass. When you do this, vehicles ahead will also get the space to move to the left and a green corridor can be automatically created,” says Dr Savla.

Another important link in the chain, says Dr. Savla, is for ambulance owners and drivers to call the traffic police control room for help in clearing traffic for them. The special number allotted to ambulances is 8879221100.

Dr. Savla met with police control room officials and asked them to give priority to ambulance calls. “People can also call 100. The control room staff will coordinate with the patrolling staff on the road to help the ambulance reach their destination by making green zones wherever possible. I am sure this will save lives.”

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 1:57:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/helping-patients-get-to-hospital-on-time/article18031300.ece

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