Brake on emergency services: Commuters caught in the chaos at Kantatoli Chowk in Ranchi on Monday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Good news first.
An unidentified man, who was hit by an SUV at Albert Ekka Chowk in Ranchi around 11am on Monday, was rushed to a nearby private hospital within 15 minutes. None other than traffic SP Rajiv Ranjan — the right man at the right place at the right time — played saviour by putting the golden hour system (GHS) to absolute use.
GHS — aka quick response to trauma to buffer fatal road mishaps — is the brainchild of the capital’s traffic mandarins that debuted two days ago. It is an idea worth a million dollars and many more lives, but one that is staring at handicap given Ranchi’s rogue traffic.
Unlike Monday, neither the traffic SP would be present on all accident spots nor would a hospital be in close proximity. But like Monday, most city streets would be chaos exemplified to incapacitate the good intention with which the GHS has been brought into effect.
Under the system, 25 private hospitals respond to distress calls that reach them through the police control room by rushing ambulances armed with equipment and manpower for medical aid within an hour of the accident, thereby increasing manifold a victim’s chances of survival.
The catch is that these ambulances don’t fly. The challenge is that they have to wend their way through harrowing traffic to offer trauma care.
Monday saw a dug up Karamtoli Chowk make cars crawl. At Jail More, vehicles went half-clutch-half-brake, courtesy driving indiscipline. The less said the better for Kantatoli, where halting auto-rickshaws and buses narrow thoroughfares during office hours. Roadside vendors add to commuter woes. This correspondent spotted two ambulances carrying patients stuck in snarls for more than 30 minutes.
What does one do in such a trying situation? A beleaguered traffic SP had no easy answer.
“I went out of my way to conceptualise the golden hour system by channelising available resources to minimise road deaths. Ideally, the health department should have done it. We took the initiative and now at least have a proper mechanism to ferry accident victims. Earlier, they were taken to hospital in autos,” said Ranjan.
Isn’t ensuring smooth traffic flow the department’s job?
“It is and we are doing all that is possible. But, without basic infrastructure such as motorable roads and flyovers to suit a growing city not much can be done. Ranchi’s roads are the same as it were 25 years ago when I was a student,” the SP said. “Despite our pleas, both commuters and vehicles practise indiscipline,” he added.
For most capital residents, traffic jams have become a way of life.
“In the morning, you get stuck because autos, buses and cars drive at will. At night, speeding heavy vehicles are a bane. So is dust and fumes that they cause,” said Sudhir Kashyap as he negotiated the crawl at Jail More. It took him over half an hour to reach Lalpur, a distance of less than a kilometre.
Rogue drivers have their own reasons for unleashing chaos.
“There is no other option but to manoeuvre my two-wheeler when and where there is passage. I can’t be waiting all day for the snarl to clear,” said a biker caught on the wrong lane.
Ambulance drivers bear the brunt.
“It is difficult to make people understand that we operate an emergency service. We are often abused for seeking pass,” said a driver of Gurunanak Hospital.
Moral of the story: RIP, road sense; golden hour will be compromised.
Do you have a solution for Ranchi’s perennial snarls?