We may have seen or heard things in our life, that can’t be explained. I am sure that, you may belong to this group. At the same time, we have also seen things in our life, that could be explained. And yet, we acted like nothing could be done in that particular situation. Let me come straight to the point. Accidents; what happens when they occur?
Well, it’s simple. People get injured or may die. Vehicles sometimes get damaged too. Fights may break out. This is nothing new to you all. But, how about the lives that could have been saved at any of these accidents? Now, for every life lost, due to an accident and not getting required medical attention on time because of no one coming forward; is that an explainable or unexplainable situation? Well, it can be more of an explainable situation. I mean, why can’t immediate actions happen?
Accidents are inevitable. Yes, but what comes next is not. What follows next, can change the course of life for someone.
Where Lies The Actual Problem?
So, what actually is the problem? We do practice and preach about humanity. But clearly, there is a limit somewhere, that stops this from happening for real, on the roads.
Maybe it’s because of the harsh attitude or immediate rude behavior that have happened to few good bystanders, that seemed to have affected the entire lot of potential bystanders? Actually, there shouldn’t be any potential bystanders. What we need is that, everyone should not just become one, but also act truly and efficiently to this title of a ‘potential bystander’. Facts about many bystanders being harassed by police or hospital personnel for completion of formalities, procedures, compulsion for personal information etc. is not a myth, and many of you have faced it. So, the requirement is not just dealing with reluctant bystanders but the whole system of police, hospital staffs etc. Even as bystanders, we do have a choice, to save a life or not. I mean, how powerful is that, to change the course of life for not only the injured person but their families, as well.
Now, let’s break down the main concerns, here, one by one.
For instance, why do we need to harass any person, who actually brought an injured accident victim to a hospital?
Next, apart from fear of such harassment by various authorities, there exists another problem which lies within those, who have never stopped to help any accident victim or those who have turned their face the other way. A callous attitude that, ‘it is not our problem.’ Yes, no matter, how strongly we defend it, it is indeed true. Among the genuinely interested persons, such a group also exists. A basic humanity seems to be diminishing, somewhere, when we stop and analyze this. What’s worse, is that this kind of irresponsible behavior is kind of picking up and trending. It’s a wonder as to why do people record live videos of accidents and victims, lying injured on the road? Now, this inhuman behaviour can’t be blamed on the irresponsible behavior from any higher authorities. It’s a self-propelled action on an impulse or with full consciousness ? Either ways, we, then fail as humans. As humans, with advancement in every field of development and technology, we have tried to seek answers to all the difficult questions. So, what would it be in this case? And would the excuse that come up, be justifiable at all? Honestly, I have found this practice of shooting videos and clicking photographs of accident victims, road rage victims or fights leading to brutal deaths, extremely disturbing.
Of course road rage is also emerging as another disturbing reality. When two or more people argue, on the roads, leading to a deadly fight or brutal death , it is something to think about. In such cases, maybe not all but at least some of the victims could have been saved from death or serious injuries, had the people showed a greater presence of mind.
For instance, last year, a DTC bus driver in Delhi, was beaten to death by a man with his bike helmet who was egged on by his mother. Just imagine, there were other passengers in the bus , probably around 20 including the bus conductor. Now, if these people had decided to be brave for just a few minutes, couldn’t they have overpowered this young adult and saved a life? There were other passer-bys on the road as well. How much could they have been threatened, when 20 people could have overpowered one person? Whenever there is any probability of something happening, it should be tried out, in any case. But instead, people just looked on and they must have gone back home, sharing the horrific story with their family and friends. But what did they do?
Legal Remedies and Possibilities
On a different note, if a good social, ethical and legal environment is made available to bystanders, perhaps then they wouldn’t hesitate to step in, at the time of need. And, that’s what has been made possible, through an intervention by SaveLIFE Foundation,
a non-governmental organization working in the area of road safety and emergency medical care.
In 2012, they filed a Writ Petition in the Supreme Court of India, to safeguard Good Samaritans who came forward to help the injured, from legal hassles. Finally on March 30, 2016, the Supreme Court approved the guidelines laid down by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in 2015, that came originally from this petition, for the protection of Good Samaritans from any unwanted harassment from the police or other other authority. And, the good thing, is that these guidelines , act as Standard operating procedures (SOP) today, and presently binds to all states and union territories. So, now it has become the responsibility of the state governments, to make sure that these guidelines are implemented properly.
According to these guidelines, the Good Samaritans are to be treated with respect, without any discrimination on the basis of gender, caste etc. And any individual, who informs the police of an accident, shall not be forced, to give any personal information. That includes name, identity, address etc. in any of the police records. Such information disposal has been made voluntary under these guidelines. Next, the Good Samaritan can leave after providing all the required information, and can’t be kept waiting at police station or persuaded to be a witness, if they do not desire it. It’s been noted that the Superintendent or Deputy Commissioner of Police of respective place, is to ensure that these guidelines are implemented in respective jurisdictions . You can check the whole document here.
Following in it’s footsteps, the Karnataka Government introduced the ‘Karnataka Good Samaritan and Medical Professional (Protection and Regulation during Emergency Situations) Bill’ in the Legislative Assembly, in 2016 and was the first state to do so.
On the forefront, this is definitely good! Here’s hoping that more States and cities come forward here because a joint initiative can definitely help in spreading more awareness. Because, that is the need of the hour! Perhaps, if larger number of people were aware of this initiative, a few more lives could be saved, or a difference in the attitudes, could be influenced. We all know from the bottom of our hearts, that one day accidents could happen to us too. I personally live in gratitude, everyday , for the endless times, I have come back home safe. And even more grateful for the near-death accident that nearly took my life.
Here’s to more Good Samaritans in the making!