MAKE WAY FOR AMBULANCE
Being a person regularly commuting through the main thoroughfare of Bangalore city since many years and having observed the plight of the screaming ambulances, I did study the factors affecting the life-saving process, in Bangalore city out of curiosity and hence this write up.
The ambulance ‘service’ appears to have been ill understood to its restricted meaning and scope as just a vehicle with a bell or a siren that can move to the hospital by ignoring all traffic hurdles and signal barriers.
Of late, with the advent of high-tech healthcare technology and more concern in saving the ‘Golden hour’ ambulance service is gaining high priority.
Ambulance is a medical service reaching the sick to initiate all possible medical aid and continue the life support / revival service to save the life and minimize the damage as much as possible. Transporting the sick in an ambulance has an added advantage as it enjoys certain privileges in traversing the route to the hospital within the golden hour.
Hundreds of ambulances squeeze and cut across the city through the crowded streets and many of them frantically keep screaming for the way to rush ahead.
But my concern is:
How many ambulances are reaching the hospital within the golden hour?
How many lives are lost due to delay in ambulance journey?
Does the ambulance have a device to monitor the actual time taken for each trip?
Does the driver records the reason in case of delay beyond normal time?
Is there a system to take over the sick, in case the ambulance breaks down in the midway?
Does the hospital compensate for the loss of life due to break down of their ambulance?
Who will compensate if the ambulance is delayed due to traffic block?
How does the rallies and processions accommodate free movement of ambulances?
Why the hospital don’t qualify the phrase ‘Brought dead’ with reason for the delay?
Has any one protested for the delay?
If any body wants to complain, to whom they should complain?
Oh’ too many issues and challenges!.
In the midst of this, the agony of the dear ones accompanying the sick is only to be experienced.
Traffic block is a cruel challenge to the ambulance. Policemen many a time are found to be helpless.
As per my observation: location of the hospitals, ambulance vehicle, the driver, traffic load, road condition, absence of defined track, absence of a nodal-center to coordinate and guide the ambulance movement etc are the factors for the chaotic condition.
The IT boom in late 90s like a hormonal kick on a child at puberty, made Bangalore city to grow at an unimagined speed. There was sudden over-night demand for every kind of infrastructure.
Construction and reconstruction of roads, under-pass, by-pass, flyovers, grade separators, one-ways popped up to ensure free-flow.
High tech hospitals came out with High-tech services and high-tech ambulances and created a new ‘Emergency-market’
Hi-fi abbreviations, terminologies, words and phrases which were unheard off earlier like ICU, ICCU, Trauma-care, baby-care, mother-care, [ No daddy care!], package –cares, help-line, English - press 1, kannada - press 2 services, juicy schemes and policies from Insurance companies etc have come on to the lips of the man on the street!
Are these enough to feel comfortable?
These have created a desire to get the best and left the people to struggle to catch up with the need.
Because, the need to have a defined ‘TRACK’ for the movement of ambulance did not gain its due importance.
1. Presence of a Doctor and a nurse with all life saving drugs should be made mandatory in all the ambulances.
2. The ambulance driver should be a professional fully familiar not only with the city road map but also like a flight pilot should be able to contact the nearest alternate hospital in case of extreme midway emergency.
3. Hospitals providing cardiac, Neuro and Ortho services are located on eastern and south-eastern side of Bangalore. Hence, at least satellite emergency service centers having all specialties should be established covering all major areas on the south, west and North-west and south-west Bangalore.
4. Timely treatment available in close by hospital is ignored many a time. Patient’s attendant’s idea in selecting the hospital many a time is not borne out of technical knowledge on the service required. People think of big names ignoring timely treatment available nearby. Hence, hospitals should educate the people to use nearest service instead of promoting their own hospital as if they are authorized guaranteers of life.
5. Those hospitals which cannot cater to the major life threatening emergencies should clearly spell out their limitations and service type, for the knowledge of the public, instead of boasting with ’24 hours emergency service’ signboard.
6. The Government should define various types of emergency services like First-Aid service, Medical emergency, Surgical emergency, General Emergency, Life saving Emergency, Intensive care service, Intensive cardiac care Service, Emergency Head-injury services, etc. [Doctors are better persons in this area]
7. All major ‘Emergency’ service centers in the city should be interlinked through an ‘Ambulance Control Room’ [ACR] The ACR manned by professionals should guide the ambulance to the nearest emergency service center to save the golden hour depending on the condition of the patient and type of service required,
8. The ACR should monitor the availability of immediate service and the bed at the destination hospital, so that the patient could be taken to the less crowded service center to avoid delay.
9. The ACR should also monitor the availability of ambulance vehicles and arrange for the ambulance from alternate sources.. People should be educated to contact ACR when they find a medical emergency.
10. The ‘Ambulance Control Room’ should also act like a navigator to guide the ambulance driver through the least crowded route and also alert in advance the traffic police to keep the track clear for the ambulance to pass out.
11. Ambulances should have electronic wireless network communication system
12 . Though it is a general rule that all road users should clear-off from the Right track of the road to make way for the ambulance, it is not happening.
13. Many a time, the ambulance drivers drive the ambulance in Cris-cross movement from one end to the other end of the road and get struck in midway.. Drivers need to be educated to stick on to the right track of the road.
14. Since our traffic sense is not matured, sign boards like ‘Ambulance track’ and ‘Leave ambulance track for ambulance’ should be displayed every where and a red line should be painted on the right of all main roads indicating that the track should be cleared on hearing the ambulance siren.
15. All ambulances should have typical sirens and signal like a code. Of late , the pedestrian cross signal is alarming every one as if some ambulance is at the back. I myself was a victim of such a confusion.
16. Punitive action should be taken for obstructing the ambulance movement and also for following the ambulance taking advantage of the track clearance.
A wide awareness activity to publicize the need helps to a greater extent.
18. There should be a defined ambulance route map for the city and the ambulance driver should stick to route map as soon as he comes out of the by-lane and hits the main thoroughfare.
This is wrt the Bangalore city. But may be applicable to other cities also.
I think, this will help in minimizing the journey time to the hospital.