Published : Times of India
Concern for ambulances stuck in a traffic jam is a noble thought.Suggestions ranging from separate lanes for ambulances to technology-driven solutions that would turn every signal green as the vehicle approaches a junction,keep pouring in.
Good intentions indeed.Except that the situation and road users behaviour leave much to be desired.
If merely declaring a lane dedicated to ambulances could solve the problem,it could have been done decades ago.In fact,there is similar justification for the fire brigade,BMTC buses,cycles and so on.But,with 70% of our roads having merely two lanes,and that too not in the best of health,what is left of the road to dedicate for special services is anybodys guess.
If at all a lane could be dedicated for special purposes other than routine traffic,it would have been captured by VIPs long ago.Dedicated lanes,unless physically segregated and with controlled access,will only remain on paper.
Imagine a scenario with bumperto-bumper traffic in one lane and the adjacent lane empty because it is reserved for emergency services! This could double the queue lengths of waiting vehicles and choke many junctions.
How many drivers have the patience to honour such an arrangement in a scenario where motorists dont even hesitate to drive on footpaths or against opposite flow to overtake vehicles waiting at a signal.
Why do ambulances suffer Why should they crisscross the city at all hours Commercial interests and considerable abuse have ensured proliferation of ambulances in recent years.An emergency means the patient needs immediate attention at the nearest hospital.With fairly large number of ambulances,hospitals and nursing homes spread all over the city,an emergency should be handled by the nearest ambulance and in the nearest hospital,instead of taking the patient in a specific ambulance from one corner of the city to another.
The simplest solution is to bring all ambulances under one umbrella,map their location using GPS,so that the nearest ambulance picks up patients and takes them to the nearest hospital.Once stable,patients can be shifted to a hospital of their choice.This would avoid unnecessary crisscrossing of ambulances across dozens of signals with the patient in distress.A modest beginning,of course,has been made by EMRI 108 service.But most hospitals continue to operate in silos.
Moreover,not every ambulance is in emergency.Misuse on routine duty as well as empty ambulances blaring sirens come to our notice quite often.
Automatic green signal every time an ambulance approaches a signal is a good concept,but only after their proliferation and unwarranted movement is curtailed.Otherwise,at certain junctions,where ambulances cross every ten minutes,a particular direction will remain green forever.
By the way,do commuters make space for an ambulance to cross a signal No.Instead of making way,they try to use this opportunity to get a clearance for themselves ahead of the ambulance!
Technology should bring all ambulances and hospitals under one umbrella for optimum ulilization.For once,commercial consideration should give way to a humane approach.Avoiding misuse and ensuring better etiquette to provide right of way for ambulances is the need of hour.Better sensitization of traffic police as well as commuters will result in saving precious lives and reducing trauma for patients.Traffic police,meanwhile,will continue to play a major role by human intervention and clearing ambulances at every junction.
The simplest solution is to bring all ambulances under one umbrella,map their location using GPS,so that the nearest ambulance picks up patients and takes them to the nearest hospital.Once stable,patients can be shifted to a hospital of their choice
The writer is additional commissioner of police,traffic
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