Time to ensure a safe passage

Time to ensure a safe passage

Ambulances struggling to make their way through endless traffic snarls is a common sight in the City. But they also enjoy a host of privileges during emergencies like the right of way, the right to go against the flow on one-ways and the right to break speed barriers. But there are times when ambulances themselves become culprits. 

They are sometimes caught misusing privileges or end up causing deaths like in the case of a young man who was knocked down by a speeding ambulance in the City recently.

The Bangalore Traffic Police have not booked a case against the driver of that ambulance simply because it was attending to an emergency. They say that ambulances are allowed to break rules only when they are attending an emergency case.

 Talking about rules pertaining to ambulances in the City, B Dayananda, additional commissioner of traffic, says, “The ambulances have the right to cut across traffic rules during an emergency but they have to follow the rules in normal circumstances and will be fined if they are found violating the rules.”

Asked if there was a proposal to have a separate ambulance bay just like for the buses, Dayananda asks, “Where is the space with such narrow roads and shoddy planning?

People have to give way when they see an ambulance and traffic police has been instructed to clear the roads for an ambulance in case of a traffic congestion,” he shares.  Medical practitioners feel that one life should not be lost in a bid to save another. 

Dr EV Raman, consultant ENT and head and neck surgeon, Manipal Hospital feels, “It is true that ambulances enjoy a few privileges when on the roads but these privileges must not be misused. The ambulances must have a trained driver who is capable enough to drive through congested roads without causing any untoward incident.” Hospital managements claim that care is taken to ensure that there is no misuse of the vehicle. 

A senior staff, transport in-charge of Vikram Hospital, says, “We sometimes get three or four calls a day for an ambulance and some days, we don’t get any. In a month, we get an average of 30 calls. The drivers of the ambulance work in shifts and we always make note of who goes where at what time.” 

While the traffic police say that people must give way to ambulances, people wonder how it is possible to do so in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Jasodha, a professional, feels that in a crowded city like Bangalore, an ambulance bay is an indispensable part of town planning. 

Jasodha says, “There should be separate lanes reserved for ambulances considering most Indians have a ‘me first’ kind of an attitude on the road. However, I feel many ambulance drivers take advantage of this benefit even when there’s no patient needing urgent medical attention inside the ambulance.” 

But a few people like Priyanka, a student of Christ University, are of the opinion that one can’t plan for separate ambulance bays because the roads are unplanned and not wide enough, “The roads are poorly maintained and it is impossible to create more space when the roads are already congested.” 

Ritwika, another student, feels the drivers of ambulances must be trained not to misuse the privileges, “When you see a speeding ambulance, you automatically trust them and give way but this faith must not be taken for granted,” she sums up.  

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