India has the dubious ‘honour’ of being number one in the world in terms of road accidents; a number which translates to something like 400 deaths a day, 17 deaths an hour! In many of these cases, victims don’t receive help from bystanders in the ‘golden hour’, or the first hour after the accident, where emergency medical care is crucial. In a national survey conducted by NGO SaveLIFE Foundation, it was found that 88% of people don’t help due to the fear of legal hassles and police harassment.
While other countries (such as France and Germany) have laws sometimes requiring people to help a person injured in a road accident (also known as ‘duty to rescue’), India doesn’t have any kind of law of that kind. However, the Supreme Court, in January 2016, issued guidelines to protect good samaritans or those who help road accident victims, from any legal troubles. And what we need today is more awareness about these guidelines and examples of good samaritans reaching out to thousands.
On September 21, I was returning from lunch when I saw a crowd of around 50 people gathered on the road. I immediately stopped my car to check what had happened. Two men were helping a girl out from under a stationary bus. The girl was not fully conscious and was badly injured. While the two men were helping her, others were just standing there and looking, with some people even trying to get on the bus to get a better view. Seeing the gravity of the situation, I immediately dialled 102 and called an ambulance. I also called a nearby clinic to check if they could send a doctor but they turned down my request citing shortage of staff.
Taking her out of the bus took about half an hour and the ambulance still hadn’t arrived. That is when I decided to take her to the hospital in my car. Thankfully, the doctors at the hospital were really nice and immediately started her treatment without asking any questions. I found her phone and left after informing her parents about the incident. Later, we heard that the ambulance had ended up arriving 40 minutes after we called them.
A road accident can happen with anyone and it is our duty to help out. It’s like a chain reaction. If you help someone, in future, they will also save other lives.
In July 2015, I was on my way to a wedding reception with my family when I saw a huge crowd gathered on the road. I immediately stopped to check and found a severely injured young man lying in a pool of blood. Realising that there was no time to waste, I picked him up and rushed him to the nearest hospital. The injured, a 26-year-old CA student, was saved despite severe head injuries because he had been taken to the hospital quickly.
In another incident, a 21-year-old girl was severely injured after a car hit her while she was crossing the road. Since she was bleeding profusely, I applied a tourniquet to her wound and then drove her in my car to a nearby hospitalMy training has not only given me skills in helping the injured, but also the confidence to step forward and help.
On January 21, 2016, I was at Holkar bridge, Khadki, in Pune, around 7:15 p.m., when I saw a crowd gathered around an elderly man. He had been hit by a bike, whose driver had then sped away. Instead of waiting for an ambulance, I quickly took him in my car to the nearby Cantonment Hospital at Khadki. The hospital authorities only provided an ambulance and directed me to Sassoon General Hospital. They gave him no treatment except for wiping the blood off of his face.
The victim was so disoriented that he fell from the stretcher, so I decided to accompany him to Sassoon Hospital. When we reached the hospital, I was told by the staff to search for a stretcher. I had to struggle to get the victim on it. At the casualty ward too, the staff only cleaned up the profusely bleeding ears and directed me to complete admission formalities that included getting the police’s signature on it, since it was a medico-legal case. But the policeman was unavailable for 15 minutes at his seat.
I was getting desperate as the doctors hadn’t begun the treatment Once again, there was no help in placing the patient on the stretcher. With great difficulty, I wheeled him towards the CT scan section. The doctor only walked along with us. In fact, after the CT scan, I was rudely told by the staff there to clean the blood and urine of the patient. It was only after the patient started coughing profusely and frothing at the mouth that the doctor asked me to rush him back to the casualty ward. That is when they incubated him. After losing considerable time, the doctors admitted him to the trauma ICU.
I was trying to save a life and that too within the golden hour. My only appeal to citizens when they are out, is to ensure they carry a valid identification card that lists numbers of relatives and friends so that it is easier to contact their families, in case of any emergency.
Whenever I spot an accident victim, I try to help, no matter what the condition of the person is. I first dial 100 for the police, and then 102 for an ambulance.
Once, I came across a biker who had been hit by a truck in Sarojini Nagar, Delhi. I took him to a private hospital because it was closer to the accident site. But the hospital insisted that I take the person to AIIMS. This wasted almost 30 minutes of precious time when treatment could have started. Finally, I fought with the hospital administration and got first aid for the man.
People are not aware of how an accident victim should be treated. Some people start giving water to the person, which is absolutely wrong; the person might choke and die on the spot. As for police, sometimes they are cooperative while in many cases they start harassing me and ask questions like – Why are you here? How did this accident happen? Did you hit this person? After all these years, I have learnt to deal with policemen.
If there’s one thing to learn from these stories, it is that India needs a deeper understanding of how exactly to help accident victims, especially in the crucial first hour after the accident.
If you want to know more about how you can help road accident victims, go here to join the discussion and make road safety in India a priority.