Lifesavers are helpless due to traffic jams

By: Ankita Mukherjee

Patients suffer as ambulances do not reach on time due to heavy traffic congestion across the city.

Heavy traffic congestion in Bengaluru is preventing ambulances from reaching patients on time.

Hareesh G, an ambulance driver, informed: “From 9 am to noon and from 5 pm to 7 pm, we face the most traffic congestion. We try to get our way out, but if we get stuck in the middle of the congestion, we cannot make it. There are times when the patients’ families face a loss due to this.”

Venkatesh R, a cab driver, said: “Police try to clear the congestion to make way for ambulances. If an ambulance is caught in the middle of congestion, then nothing can be done. We try to make way for any emergency vehicle whenever we hear its siren.”

Masthan K, a motorist, shared: “Whenever I see an ambulance stuck in a traffic jam, I move out of the way and try not to block its path.” Traffic congestion is high at junctions under construction. Hudson Circle, Electronics City, and Shivajinagar also face heavy traffic congestions.

J Chandrasekhar Reddy, the Assistant Additional Commissioner of Traffic Management Centre said, “We have come up with ‘Green Corridor’ where the road becomes zero signal for organ transporting and we give green signal to the ambulances and send them to the proper destinations.” Dr. B.R. Ravikanthe Gowda, the joint commissioner of police (traffic), informed: “Whenever an ambulance plays the hooter, people should move out of the place to make way for it, but some don’t bother. We should have more sensible people around us.”

Under the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, if a vehicle blocks the way of an emergency vehicle, then the driver of that vehicle will be charged a fine up to Rs. 10,000. An ambulance of Marigold hospital, without its siren blaring, stuck in traffic for about two minutes. When questioned, the driver said he was on his way to pick up a patient. There is no traffic post near the Jayadeva junction, 500 meters from Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research. BMRCL employees regulate traffic manually.

Suman Barwai, a BMRCL employee who controls traffic there, said: “It is a problem managing traffic manually. We shifted our traffic signal post due to Metro construction work. If any hooting ambulance comes, we try to make way for it. But it becomes difficult when there is a thick traffic jam. Because of this, ambulances get stuck.”

But there are exceptions always. For an instance in Kerala, Hasan, a driver of an ambulance of covered 400 km in just five and a half hours just to reach the hospital as soon as he could. A 15-day old child was in his ambulance. After asking him about the journey till the hospital, he replied that without the support and cooperation of everyone, he could not be made it to the hospital in time.

Dr. Ashish Verma, assistant professor of transportation systems engineering at IISc, observed: “It is the responsibility of each citizen to make way for ambulances. We can be sensible enough to leave space for ambulances so that the patients get proper treatment on time.”

Dr. Pannalal Saha, who works in a hospital, said: “At times, a patient’s condition becomes critical, and he dies due to not getting enough oxygen by the time he reaches a hospital. People should make way for emergency vehicles.

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