Patients bear brunt as traffic bottlenecks slow down ambulances on Lucknow roads

Published on Aug 05, 2022 10:53 PM IST

The peak hour driving speed of ambulances is between 25-30 kmph (kilometre per hour) and during non-peak hours, it is 30-35 kmph in urban areas in all major cities, including Lucknow, Prayagraj, Varanasi and Meerut

An ambulance stuck in traffic in Lucknow. (Deepak Gupta/HT Photo)
An ambulance stuck in traffic in Lucknow. (Deepak Gupta/HT Photo)
ByGaurav Saigal, Lucknow

Traffic isn’t just troublesome for daily commuters, a majority of whom can afford to be a bit late, but also those in ambulances bear the brunt of snail-paced vehicles on roads.

For instance, reaching King George’s Medical University (KGMU) trauma centre from Lucknow’s Dandaiya market —a distance of 5.5 km — could take up to 25 minutes during peak hours but if the traffic is smooth, the same distance takes less than 10 minutes to cover.

Statistics shared by GVK EMRI that runs ambulances (both the 102 service for pregnant women and the 108 service for all general illnesses) reveals the peak hour driving speed of ambulances is between 25-30 kmph (kilometre per hour) and during non-peak hours, it is 30-35 kmph in urban areas in all major cities, including Lucknow, Prayagraj, Varanasi and Meerut. The speed in rural pockets is better. (The average bicycle speed is almost 27 kmph).

“The peak hour for the 108 ambulances that cater to injured persons is between 8am and 12 noon and between 4pm and 9pm, the time when most accidents take place and traffic, too, is at its peak,” said TVS Reddy, senior vice-president, GVK EMRI.

The peak hour traffic is between 9 am- 12 noon and 2pm- 6pm for 102 ambulances that transport pregnant women.

In Lucknow, the main bottleneck areas include Qaiserbagh, Aminabad, Chowk, the localities around Balrampur hospital, Aliganj, NK Road, Naka-Charbagh, and the areas around Mohanlalganj crossing. The key reasons for the slow speed of ambulances that run over 70 kmph when a green corridor is created on a route to transport an organ for a transplant operation, is poor traffic management and traffic sense on the road. “People do not give a pass when they hear a siren. We appeal to the masses to make way for an ambulance when the driver is blowing siren, which means an emergency for someone inside,” said Reddy. He said a solution is now being worked on by integrating GPS in ambulances with traffic signals.

“The golden hour concept demands a severely injured patient to reach hospital within one-hour of the road accident to improve chances of survival and speedy recovery. Slow movement of ambulance hampers the golden hour concept and depletes recovery,” said Dr Abhishek Shukla, secretary general, Association of International Doctors. An ambulance takes less than 15 minutes to reach the accident spot, but if another 45 minutes are spent in reaching the hospital (from the accident spot), the golden hour is almost lost. The GVK EMRI staff has been trained to address this issue. “We have trained paramedical staff inside ambulances who give on-the-spot treatment in 7 minutes and then on way to hospital also. They are connected with a physician at our call centre also guiding them to treat while on way to hospital. But if the traffic issue is addressed, the situation will improve further,” said Reddy. To adhere to the golden hour protocol, it is necessary for an ambulance to reach the accident spot in 15 minutes and take the same or even less time to get to the hospital nearby.

From the base to site of accident, the ambulance takes about 11 minutes as the nearest one is diverted to the spot but the time taken from site of accident to hospital depends entirely on traffic. Though ambulance drivers are trained to drive up to 20 kilometres in 15-minutes, but with traffic going slow the time gets extended, Reddy said.

SOLUTION IN PIPELINE

GVK EMRI, in coordination with the traffic department, is working on a solution wherein the GPS in ambulances will be linked with the traffic control room. This will allow the traffic light system to sense arrival of an ambulance on the road. In such a situation, the traffic light for the road on which the ambulance is coming will stay green till the ambulance passes. “This will solve the traffic issue for ambulances so a major extent,” said TVS Reddy, senior vice president, GVK EMRI.

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