Kochi: Bad roads affect ambulance drivers too

Deccan Chronicle.  | SMITHA N and KRISHNAKUMAR KE

Nation, Current Affairs

It took 2.45 hours to cover 12 km, says Hari Kumar.

Ambulance driver Hari Kumar collects signatures in front of Tripunithura Municipality on Monday. (DC)

KOCHI: The ambulance drivers speeding to hospitals blaring horns and clearing the way are plunging into deep potholes now. So an ambulance driver started a signature campaign on Monday demanding immediate repair of the damaged roads in Kochi.

“The purpose of our service is to give the patients medical help at the earliest with minimal external factors affecting their health. The bad roads have foiled our efforts,” said P.R. Hari Kumar, who has been driving ambulance for the last 12 years.

Kumar, who launched the campaign before Tripunithura municipal office, got a good response and collected over 500 signatures by 5 p.m.

“The other day, I was rushing a patient with spinal cord complaint to the General Hospital from a hospital in Tripun-ithura. It took me 2.45 hours to cover a distance of 12 km.  I had to be extremely careful as the roads have deep potholes. Traffic congestion was another challenge,” he said.

Kumar rued that all roads from the royal town are in a terrible condition. He will submit his petition to the district collector and the State Human Rights Commission on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the awful condition of roads in Ernakulam has adversely impacted the movement of emergency ambulances with ICU and NICU facilities. Shifting newborns with serious cardiac or other diseases and pregnant women requiring emergency medical care to hospitals in distant places has become a major challenge as it takes over one hour to cover busy junctions like Kundanoor and Vyttila.

According to Rahul Karthikeyan, CEO of Life Save Emergency Medical Services Pvt Ltd, which has specially designed ambulances with modern facilities, the roads have badly affected the service of their emergency vehicles.

“The NICU ambulances with hi-tech and sophisticated facilities are specially designed for newborns with cardiac issues. The vehicles carry babies requiring surgery under the state government’s Hridyam project. We carry newborns with a birth-weight of even 500 grams. Hence, even a minor shake can upset the ventilation of the baby. In some cases, speed transportation will be required while in some other cases, patient’s safety will be more crucial,” he said.

“When a patient is being transported from the southern districts to Kochi, the ambulance can’t run at the usual speed from Cherthala to Kochi city due to the damaged roads. We usually seek the help of traffic police or other authorities for only those cases which require high-speed (more than 70 km/h) transportation,” he added.