Problems caused due to potholes – which have become a recurring feature in the monsoon – are not just limited to traffic congestion and bumpy rides for commuters.
Pothole-filled roads in the city and the resulting traffic jams are endangering the lives of emergency and trauma patients, who need to reach the hospital in the golden hour – the first 60 minutes following a serious injury.
“Precious time is lost because of delay in reaching the hospital, owing to the traffic snarls caused by potholes and waterlogging. Many emergency patients don’t reach hospital on time,” said Dr Khusrav Bajan, head of emergency at Hinduja Hospital.
The golden hour is the most critical period – a matter of life and death for the victim. This is particularly important for those who have suffered a heart attack, a brain stroke, or been seriously injured in an accident.
“In the event of a heart attack, if the patient does not receive the essential life-saving treatment in the first 90 minutes, irreversible damage can be caused,” said Dr Rajiv Karnik, interventional cardiologist, Fortis Hospital.
In fact, Dr Bajan said, doctors now follow the platinum half-hour rule, as even 60 minutes could be a little too long.
Nearly 50-60% of the emergency patients reach hospitals late in the monsoon. “The gap between an emergency call and the arrival of the patient in the hospital is significantly more presumably due to bad road conditions and traffic jams,” said Dr Karnik.
Not just the travel time, the commute also makes things doubly dangerous for patients. “Patients have to endure jerks. This is a major concern when we are handling cardiac and fracture cases,” said Sweta Mangal, chief executive officer, Ziqitza Health Care Ltd. which operates 35 ambulances as part of the Dial 1298 for Ambulance service in the city.
Ambulance providers also find it difficult to maintain the monitoring equipment. “In cardiac cases we have to continuously monitor the patient’s pulse. Some times the medical equipment get switched off due to the jerks and need to be restarted, which takes a few minutes,” said Mangal.