Dubbed the "epidemic" of modern times, trauma claims nearly 400,000 lives in India every year. The deaths and disabilities can be prevented if proper training is imparted to the common man on how to handle emergency care in accident cases, experts say.
They advocate emergency medicine courses for the common people, starting from the school level.
"Trauma is the modern epidemic. In 2013, 400,000 young lives were lost due to road accidents. Around 35% of injuries take place on roads. Most of the people who pass away are young males who are the earning members of the family," AIIMS director MC Misra said.
He said in India deaths due to trauma exceeded those due to cancer and heart diseases combined.
Apart from causing deaths in a largely young population, trauma will, by 2020, be ranked third for causing disabilities among the Indian population, Mishra added.
"Help does not reach within the golden hour. If people are careful and observe safety and wear helmets, then the maximum number of deaths can be prevented," said Misra, who is also head of the Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Center at AIIMS.
Sanjay Jaiswal, consultant and head of the department emergency medicine at Gurgaon's Paras Hospital, told IANS, "Since the last 8 to 10 years, many private hospitals are promoting emergency medicine courses at various levels.
"There are certain hospitals in our country which are currently running a three-year programme in emergency medicine in collaboration with the United States.
"From this year, the National Board of Examinations has also started short courses in emergency medicine. A few colleges in India run courses for emergency medicine recognized by the Medical Council of India (MCI)."
He added, "But it is all at a very primitive level. There is still indefinite scope in this direction. Lots of effort have to be taken by various institutions to achieve this goal."
Gaurav Thukral, head of medical services at Healthcare at Home, said, "In most trauma cases where deaths occur before medical help arrives, there is nobody who knows what to do.
"Precious minutes are lost. People should be trained in basic stuff like life support… if a person is not given help within three minutes of an accident, then we can lose the person."
Thukral said there was also a lack of proper handling in case of spinal injuries.
"Such training should be included in the school curriculum. Even a two-hour workshop would suffice."
Agreeing with this view, Gopal Shukla, consultant neurologist at the trauma centre of Columbia Asia Hospital, said, "I recommend trauma care at the school-level so that every person in this country is trained to save a life whenever needed".
According to Misra, the government was also trying to make efforts by putting up ambulances on highways such as the Jaipur-Delhi highway. "A better trauma system and both pre-hospital and post-hospital care are needed."
A senior official in the ministry of road transport said the government has proposed a complete revamp of road safety laws in India.
The Road Transport and Safety Bill 2014 has proposed an ambitious target of reducing 200,000 deaths due to road accidents in first five years.
Provision for enforcement of modern safety technologies, creation of a motor accident fund for immediate relief to the accident victim and special emphasis on safety of school children are some of the measures by which the bill aims to prevent these deaths.
Other measures include strict enforcement of laws against drink driving and increasing the penalty for such crimes.