Chennai, Oct. 21: Life-threatening consequences await patients if ambulances fail to reach hospitals on time. With water-logged roads, nonfunctioning signals, and broken trees obstructing the way, a journey that would originally take 10 minutes to complete now takes at least an hour.
Jams have worsened in the city as a result of poor traffic management and lack of preparedness to handle the intensity with which the monsoons have hit this year. Cars, bikes, buses and autos manoeuver through traffic, occupying every lane and sidewalk resulting in accidents.
An absence of traffic police at major junctions leads to distress on the road. Ambulance drivers have been finding themselves in severe jams, such that, finding a relatively less packed route has proven to be a difficult task.
“It takes very long sometimes for the traffic to clear out and the police to let the ambulance pass. But the situation has improved. A few years ago, vehicles would not move out of the way. At least now they realize that they need to clear the way for us,” said Mahindar, an ambulance driver of a private hospital in Chetpet.
The few traffic police that are actually visible on the road at this time of the year also seem helpless. Working knee-deep during heavy downpour, they find it difficult to control traffic without risking their health or lives.
“It is difficult to control agitated drivers who have been waiting for hours at a junction. Some vehicles stop when they see authority figures but most drive past. We are only given boots and a raincoat that doesn’t protect us entirely from the rain,” said Kashi Vishvanath, a traffic officer at the Nungumbakkam-Sterling Road junction.
Dr. Ravi Subramaniam, surgeon at Soundarapandian Bone and Joint Hospital, said, “The first 60 minutes after a patient gets injured is the golden hour. It is crucial for the patient to reach the hospital within this time.”
The North East monsoons are expected to affect the city till December. The State must devise a plan to control water stagnation that is paralyzing the city.