Saturday 9 May 2015

INJURED FIRST !!! : Road Traffic Trauma and the Complexities of being a Good Samaritan or a Responsible Driver in Developing India

Prevention is better than being a Patient

From the Desk of Sagar Galwankar, MD, FACEE, Diplomat. ABEM (USA)
Amongst all the media discussion about the court verdict in a recent celebrity hit and run road traffic case I found myself thinking about the complexities of this whole issue of road traffic injuries in India.

India is changing and it’s happening fast. International Cars are now being driven on Indian roads. These are high speed cars. India has now gotten expressways which are four lane to six lane. Heavy Motor Vehicle Travel has also increased with economic growth and manufacturing industries making India their home.

People can now own vehicles with ease, thanks to loans by prospering banks.

In all this frenzy one thing hasn’t changed and that is the behavior of the Indian Road Traveler.

The Road Safety Education and the Road Travel Skills still continue to lag behind.

Drivers love to have cars which can easily speed 120 km/Hrs. without realizing that if the tires burst then death is instantaneous.

I often wondered why there are speed limits on roads and after much research found out that the speed limit is calculated based on the probability whether an accident at that speed can enhance least damage and survival. It also takes into account pedestrian traffic and volume of traffic. So in all abusing the speed limit is high risk by itself.

Drinking alcohol and driving is a big No and the highest risk because in a crash the first to die could be the driver itself.

Now in case of two wheelers the concept that the rider should only need a helmet and the back seat rider doesn’t need one is something which is very difficult to comprehend by me. In a crash both the riders will be equally exposed so without a helmet the rider is at high risk of death.

 I was travelling in India recently and in a city I saw a crash happen in front of my eyes. A driver was driving his imported car and it crashed into a motor cycle being driven by a Non Helmeted rider. It was an accident because the motor cycle skid and came in front of the car and the rider got head injury. The rider was awake and bleeding but what happened next ?

People gathered and started beating up the driver who had stopped, gotten out of the car and picked the rider and put him in his car and was taking him to the hospital. The first response of the by standers was the Driver in Car must have made the mistake …… Hammer the driver.

This is a wrong behavior which needs to be changed. The thought that Car Drivers have more money so they can afford cars and if they are in a crash it’s their fault so take justice into their hands and forget the patient is absolutely wrong. Forgetting the patient is just wrong.

This leads to the phenomenon of drivers running away after hitting other pedestrians / vehicles. If anyone wants to take the crash victims to the hospital they will not and just run away because they don’t want to face the mob mentality.

On the other hand drivers should be responsible whether on bikes or in car to maintain slow speed and make sure they don’t hit anyone.

 Wearing helmets, driving with car seats for children when with children , driving within speed limits, wearing seat belts, checking their eyes, not driving if they have high diabetes or seizures or pacemakers are some of the responsibilities Citizens have to exercise on their own.

In many of my public events where I was called to inaugurate Road Safety and Basic Emergency Care Training programs I ask one question: What do you do when you see a crash on the road?

The truthful answer I get is: we don’t stop because we don’t want to get involved with the Mob or the Police.

Why are we as citizens afraid of doing the right thing?

Police will not bother you if you helped a bleeding victim. There is no use of learning Basic Life support courses if you don’t have the intent to help someone in need. We still are far from having EMS within minutes so the cars and bystanders are the first responders and hence going to a hospital which has 24/7 Emergency Care with Radiology and Laboratory Back up is the first important step after stabilizing the airway c spine and stopping the bleeding.

Focusing on the Injured is very important and that’s a First.

We have crowded cities and vast rural corridors.

We have lack of space for pedestrians to walk that’s why they walk on roads.

We have high speed corridors going through rural area without crossings, overhead bridges or barricades.

This is all there because development and infrastructure are in a mismatch.

What we can match is our behavior.

The vehicle industry and the road traffic license departments have to take a lead role in education and regulation of behavior of travelers. Just selling vehicles and issuing licenses is not the only responsibility.

Changing our behavior and educating the masses that a crash is a crash and INJURED FIRST should be the focus is the responsibility of the Social Media, Marketing and Medical Community.

Avoiding a Crash is better than being in one….still crashes will happen.

We should be responsible and always remember the INJURED IS ALWAYS FIRST !

INDUSEM has launched the Jan Suraksha Abhiyan on Injury Prevention which compliments the Prime Ministers Jan Suraksha Bima Yojana on Insurance of Accidents and Injured victim.

Thanks to Web Images for the open source Picture !