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Friday, December 25, 2015

Chennai city traffic ~ caring for life saving 108 Ambulance

The word ‘Pilot’ – would first take our mind to an aviator, someone  who operates the directional flight controls of an aircraft while it is in flight.  There are other Pilots too !

We have reasons to feel proud of our land of Chennai aka Madras aka ~ Chennapatnam – deriving its name from Chennappa Nayak dating back to 1637 !  Safety is everybody’s concern ~ accidents unfortunately do occur – lot many of them avoided by observing safety and many lives saved by immediately attending to them.   All  users of a road including pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, passengers in vehicles, its drivers and others face risk on road. 

Struck in the Chennai traffic, you hear the siren – that of an ambulance – many a times, wonder what to do – feeling helpless – with no space to move.   In the past week, experienced more than once on the arterial Mount Road – save a couple of fools, most vehicles swerved immediately to give way to the emergency vehicle.  Felt happy in seeing that !   Many would try to show off their travels stating that emergency vehicles, such as ambulances and fire engines, would move on designated lane without losing time in foreign countries.  Chennai, like any other Indian city lacks road width and most roads are congested allowing no place to move.  Perhaps Chennai drivers are more human on hearing the siren – giving way …..    For all our friends - When we hear the siren of an ambulance, we should always move to the left and come to a complete stop.  Stop and do not move till the ambulance finds it was and surges through, irrespective of honking vehicles and overtaking vehicles.  At signal, if ambulance asks for way from behind, move front, move to left and stop……………and never tailgate an ambulance – it is no heroism, rank foolishness and idiotic.

In a city where accident statistics are alarming, the  good thing that happened is ‘108 free ambulance service’ – the farsighted initiative of Ramalinga Raju and now operated by the  Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project,  the nodal agency that sponsors the 108 emergency response service along with GVK-EMRI, which is a private partner. It is one social intervention that has resulted in literally saving lives by attending to accident / ailment victims in the 'golden hour' when safe and knowledgeable transportation is critical. The city’s utilisation of 108 has been increasing but emergency care managers say the ambulances were mostly sought for accident cases as against pregnancies and other emergencies like chest pain.  People can avail the services for accidents, pregnancy, chest pain, medical emergency including respiratory problems, oral poisoning, insect, snake and animal bites.

Recently, when the deluge brought down the entire Cuddalore district to its knees, the place still bore witness to the spirit of selflessness that makes us humans. An ambulance driver and a group of persons put their lives on the line and braved flooded roads and unforgiving rains to help a pregnant woman reach hospital to deliver her baby got reported widely in print media, specifically Indian Express.  At EMRI 108, the ambulance drivers are called “Pilots”.  It is needless to reiterate :   All of us can wait – nothing in life is so important – than allowing the life saver to reach the destination at its earliest.  But this one in Indian Express makes a sad reading.

An ambulance carrying a heart patient was allegedly stopped on Thursday to make way for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s convoy, even as the police denied any such incident taking place on Kona Expressway in Howrah. While police have denied the allegation, the Trinamool Congress has claimed that Mamata didn’t travel via road and any such interruption of traffic was “absolutely unnecessary”. It said Mamata flew into Kolkata in a helicopter from Digha and her convoy did not cross the area.

However, the patient’s family member, Meherjan Begum, alleged that the police had stopped their ambulance on Kona Expressway for half-an-hour to make way for the chief minister’s convoy. He added that the family had to plead with senior police officers present at the spot to allow the passage of the ambulance.

Trinamool national spokesperson Derek O’Brien, in a statement, said: “On December 23, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee flew by helicopter from Digha to Kolkata. No CM’s convoy was passing by. The traffic interruption, and the inconvenience shown to citizens in Howrah was absolutely unnecessary… Mamata Banerjee travels with minimal fuss and frills, without the usual cavalcade of VIPs. She is the last person to disrupt traffic.” “As of now, we’ve done a preliminary analysis of CCTV footage and found that at least five ambulances had passed through Kona Expressway during that period and the particular ambulance, which was allegedly stopped, was never stopped.

“We are still looking into the matter but such allegations are needless and our priority has always been to let ambulances to pass because it is matter of life and death,” said a senior police officer.  Never sure which version is correct.

Back home in Chennai, the traffic police created their first green corridor in 2009, when a heart had to be taken from Teynampet to Mogappair. “Back then, the heart was taken in a police vehicle” – in later times,  a police vehicle goes ahead of the ambulance to ensure the road was free of traffic and pedestrians.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Dec 2015.


  1. Truly impressive presentation I salute the command over the language and making reader spellbound. Looking forward to read more..

  2. Truly impressive presentation I salute the command over the language and making reader spellbound. Looking forward to read more..