New Delhi: Their
sirens scream, but with little effect. Many of the capital's
ambulance services that operate around 2,000 vehicles blame low
awareness, traffic jams and VVIP movements for failing to reach
their destinations in time.
Harried ambulance service providers stress that traffic
restrictions to facilitate movement of top leaders and visiting
dignitaries should not be applicable to ambulances.
Ashwini Kapoor, director, Delhi Ambulance Service, said: "Due to
increased VIP movements, there are often traffic restrictions. It
becomes difficult for us to reach on time.
"In the midst of the agony of family members accompanying the sick
and time running out due to traffic blocks, it is a marathon task
for us. Many a time traffic police are found to be helpless."
He also said traffic on the road was not mature enough to make way
for ambulances, so those driving these vehicles have the marathon
task of juggling crowded streets and taking alternative routes.
Around 2,000 ambulances ply in the capital, of which many are
associated with private hospitals.
Fiftyone ambulances are run by the Delhi government in the name of
Central Accidental Trauma Services (CATS). They receive 150 calls
a day, higher than the private services which get 10 to 20 calls.
A CATS staffer told IANS on condition of anonymity: "It is
increasingly difficult to ply ambulance in Delhi. In a day, out of
five cases, at least in one the process turns crticial due to
traffic blocks and restrictions."
He also said that recently CATS acquired ambulances that are
slightly bigger. Due to that, reaching the narrow lanes had become
This comes after Anil Jain, a 46-year-old resident of Shahdara who
suffered a heart attack, died on the way to hospital when the
ambulance carrying him was caught in traffic restrictions imposed
for the prime minister's convoy near Rajghat Sunday night.
Jain's son Deepak moaned that his father died because he missed
timely medication as they were stranded in a traffic jam for half
hour (7.45 p.m. to 8.15 p.m.).
This was the third such case involving the prime minister's
When IANS asked ambulance services where they encountered frequent
traffic blocks, they named the Badarpur border, Kashmere Gate
Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT), the Moolchand flyover, the road
going towards the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)
and the BRT Corridor.
Manju Dutt, who has run Ashoka Ambulance Services for 10 years,
said: "Every second day there is a traffic block in the city. Be
it due to the Commonwealth Games, the visit of (US President)
Barack Obama or (Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh, we are at the
Ambulance service providers suggest some solutions -- such as
signboards like "Leave ambulance track for ambulance" on prominent
roads. Traffic police should impose fines or take immediate action
for obstructing ambulance movement.
Prasanna Bhat, medical practitioner in Max Balaji Hospital, said
many ambulance services never have a doctor or nurse. But their
presence along with life saving drugs should be made mandatory in
all the ambulances.
He also said ambulance drivers should be familiar with city roads
and traffic restrictions, and should take the patient to the
nearest alternate hospital.
Rajkumar Gaur from Delhi helpline ambulance service admitted: "If
doctors accompany the ambulance, it would be much more easy to
meet medical emergencies. But mostly, two paramedics with
comparatively less experience are sent in ambulances."
In a city teeming with vehicles, last estimated at over six
million, most roads often present a picture of indisciplined
traffic. Amblulances and those on emergency missions are the worst
When IANS contacted a senior traffic police offcer, he said: "We
usually don't restrict any ambulances or fire engines. These
incidents happen once in while."