Ambulances have the first right of passage, but in Delhi, public apathy has killed many on their way to hospital!

Posted on by Sakshi Behl
 
  

A friend lost his brother a week back because the ambulance did not reach the hospital on time. It’s an irreparable loss. Imagine being helplessly stuck in the middle of a mile-long traffic jam with a critically-ill person. It’s a sinking feeling.

The deceased boy was suffering from a heart disease. The donor was ready to donate and the donee was desperate to receive, but the heart took a long time coming. The emergency siren was crying for clearance but no one was sensitive enough to help get the traffic moving. It took over one hour extra for the ambulance to reach its destination, but by then, it was too late!

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What was it… public apathy? Insensitive traffic police, despite hearing the siren, did nothing to give the ambulance its due right of passage.

There is already a huge gap between requirement and availability of organs. With an estimated need of about 1, 75, 000 kidneys, 100, 000 livers, 50, 000 hearts and 20,000 lungs in a year, even if we find a donor, the transportation pulls it down.

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If there is collective will on the part of the Government and the civil society to ensure seamless transportation of medical help, no patient will have to die for lack of timely medical aid.

A few days back, I was pleasantly surprised by how the Haryana and the Delhi Police combined together to ensure a ‘heart’ was transported without any delay to a critical patient. It travelled from Fortis Hospital in Gurgaon to a facility in Okhla in just 30 minutes. In the absence of support from authorities, it would have taken over one-and-a-half hour, too long to make a difference! A green corridor was created and the ambulance sped through the empty lane without needing to shift gears too many times. It reached on time and someone’s heart is beating right now because of timely delivery.

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CCTV cameras were installed at multiple places on the specific route to record the journey to identify the vehicles that did not give way to the ambulance despite instructions. We have the resources, the manpower and the strategies to achieve the goal. We only need the willingness.

Organ donation ratio in India has increased to 0.34 per million populations. However, this major achievement will be futile if the heart fails to reach the needy on time. There is need for sensitization. It’s incomprehensible, beyond belief, to hear of people who don’t give way to an ambulance.

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We should spend more time and resources on planning, as well as on coordination. Air ambulance is the only sure-shot option of ensuring there is no delay due to traffic. It is being used, but only by those who have the financial means to afford the ride!

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