Have you ever observed that in the midst of traffic, whenever siren sound of an ambulance or fire brigade is heard, the first reaction from the public as well as the traffic police will be to look towards the approaching ambulance in amusement to find how far is it from them and how the vehicle is approaching. In this melee, the traffic becomes chaotic making it more difficult for the ambulance or the fire brigade to move forward. It takes some time for the moving traffic to come to a halt and give way to the ambulance. Even in such a situation, there would be some two-wheeler or vehicle driver wanting to go ahead of every one without bothering! The worst part is when the constable managing the traffic themselves becomes the onlooker to the scene. They will be just watching as to how the ambulance driver is able to negotiate and move ahead of the surging traffic jam!
Often the ambulances get stuck at the traffic signals where all other vehicles try to squeeze in to all the available space so as to move ahead as soon as the signal turns green. Unlike western countries, Indian cities can not think of having separate lanes for emergency purpose because the roads are not broad enough. Its time for the traffic experts, police and the transport authorities to evolve a clear cut guideline as to what is the correct procedure to be followed by the traffic constable, public and the drivers of ambulance/fire brigade as the case may be. In absence of any specific guidelines the drivers of ambulance tend to steer the vehicle from whichever side they find it convenient. Other vehicles while giving way move here and there creating more chaos than facilitate.
The need of the hour is to understand the gravity of such an emergent situation by every body. People should immediately act on hearing the siren instead of looking here and there in bewilderment. All vehicles must immediately be brought to the left side leaving the right side absolutely free for the un-obstructive passage of ambulance. The role of traffic constable should be well defined to bring all the vehicular traffic to a halt on to the left side on hearing any siren sound from approaching vehicle. They should ensure that no body (including VIP vehicle) is allowed to go ahead overtaking others until the ambulance passes.
‘Golden hour’ is the key to one’s life and instead of becoming a mere onlooker, let us be pro-active at the first sound of siren on road from an ambulance, fire brigade or even a police van/jeep (provided the last one is not carrying family of police personal to a school, mall or a film show!).
This is a guest article by S.R. Ayyangar, 60 years young retired banker from Bangalore, passionate about satire writing on social/political issues, blogging and social worker, doing counseling for Suicide Prevention through the helpline “SAHAI” and editing email magazine MASTER on awareness for Sri Mission.
Anil Kumar Arora says
I was on my way to home from office, Sector-56, Gurgaon and suddenly I noticed in the midst of traffic when siren sound of an ambulance get stuck us .. I was at just opposite of Signature Tower to NH8 from Huda Metro Station (Gurgaon) and there was a big jam as usually bcz the Signal was RED!
In next few seconds, peoples from Ambulance (Loudspeaker) was requesting the peoples to give them a space ..i hardly see any single person who was taking it seriously …they requesting the peoples and the bikers to clear the left row for them atleast but they were helpless, and the worst part is when I saw traffic constable were standing there at signal and talking to each but never cared about it
Generally vehicles/peoples do try to squeeze in to all the available space so as to move ahead as soon as the signal turns green but..it is indeed a sad thing..no one cares about others life and just …wtf!!!..
I cant explain what im feeling now..it was really sad that our Traffic Police Peoples are just busy in filling their pockets and have interest in making Challans only!! this is a really serious issue..
Aroraji, this is the story every where. We are not yet ready to sensitize ourselves for dealing in such a grave situation. What we need is little awareness, and drive to educate others.
umesh derebail says
Emergency back up plan needs to be ensured by the vehicle drivers, particularly Bus drivers, car drivers can make a corden to give way to ambulance. This needs lot of practical training……i have experimented by leaving space for two wheelers to fill in the gap at traffic signals and stopping the vehicle for elders and children to cross the road etc. It is part of every citizen s duty to be sensitive, it should be taught in driving schools and made a campaign by police and RTO. good article by Aiyyangar
Thanks Derebail.Currently I am in US and find that there is a separate lane for Police, Ambulance and fire brigade vehicles on all the major roads and no other vehicle comes on that lane.Can we even think of such a system in our country?
umesh derebail says
Have good trip and hopefully once you come back we will see some improvement in the traffic sense of the people in India…of course seperate lane is possible on tolled roads and highways
Another aspect of it is that as soon as people see such vehicles, they put their two or three or four wheelers just behind them so that they can also get a clear traffic. It does not only causes a trouble to the emergency vehicle, but is also dangerous at the same time. No other vehicle should be allowed to move till the time ambulance or fire brigade reaches a safe distance; much in a manner they do for VIP movements.
Harshad Sonaje says
Ya someone really has to put his thinking cap on and solve the problem smartly..If we don;t have enough space we can have at least a process of avoiding congestion. I guess major problem in India is lack of discipline and corruption and also loads of vehicles..
I agree Harshad.
i am really hurt by the attitude of our people!!
FEW DAYS BACK IN TOWN HALL JUNCTION, BANGALORE………… when an ambulance driver asked ppl ahead of him to giv space….. auto drivers and bikers who stood with the ambulance in the signal OVERTOOK the ambulance when the signal was red!!
in such cases only ambulance is allowed to go…but these ppl were preventing the ambulance from moving forward!!
untill the intervention if the traffic police all of them were doing the same!!
In DEVAGOWDA PETROL BUNK JUNCTION, BANGALORE….. there are many hosp in this side…. hillside hosp, dg hospital, kidney foundation, maharaja agrasen hosp etc etc!!…so we see many ambulance coming this way…. the attitude of the bikers and auto drivers are worse than that of town hall junction as they hardly notice the cops standing to the left!!
Leave aside auto driver or push cart wallah, highly educated people also take such a situation very lightly, unfortunately!
a little story in the context –
In the US, siren of the ambulance, fire engine and police people is like the end of the world. everyone pulls their vehicles to one side of the road and come to a stop.
having returned from US, a friend of mine asked his driver to give way to the ambulance behind their car. the driver in response said “never give way to ambulance. i never give, and you too don’t give way to them. who knows if there is anyone inside, even if someone is inside should i really care!”.
Such may be stray incidence but the problem here in India is space to pull their vehicles to one side!
Thanks for this information.If it is in Delhi, why not in other places?
I agree with you…More over I also feel they should increase the sound and light of the current ambulances which are very dull. Sometimes the ambulance sound is hardly audible in a packed traffic.One more thing is they can give a separate lane for ambuances and fire vehicles [ that i have seen in delhi].
Kavitha Lokesh says
First of all I would like to give a big round of applause for Mr. Ayyangar.
Please keep writing.
These are the issues which almost everyone has to be educated in a proper way.
I liked your impressive suggestions which are so practical.
Thank you so much Kavitha Lokesh
I stay on fourth floor and balcony happens to be on the roadside. I see ambulances and fire-brigade vehicles several times a day. But, I hardly see traffic-sense from others vehicles to let them pass through them smoothly :-/ Isn’t this strange given that I stay in Mumbai – south Mumbai to be precise – where people are supposed to be more sophisticated (At least, I expect them to).
Dear Haresh, our traffic sense remain the same from North to south, east to west!
Yes, there are problems but still SOME THING has to be done, when siren is heard from a distance why not keep away from the junction for some time till the ambulance passes away?
I find myself in this situation almost once in a month or more sometimes. On the one hand it is our duty , as a responsible citizen, to give way for the emergency ambulance which most of us do. It looks good to see that we still have social awareness alive among the citizens, on the other hand, it is the awareness that need to be spread among traffic police /citizens. In many countries, as far as i have seen, all the traffic comes to a halt at the junction when ever there is an ambulance with siren. But to implement it successfully, we should have enough space on our roads for the ambulance to come forward till the junction, which alas, is the bottle neck. The job of ambulance driver is very demanding specially when it is evening time and there is a long queue of vehicles waiting for singal to turn green and get their chance to cross over the junction. It depends a lot on the presence of mind of these drivers when they have to take the opposite lane (specially seen in Bangalore), at times, to overtake the traffic which is again very calculative, in case traffic comes from other side and they are in a fix. Kudos to them and i hope there are incentives given to them for this demanding job.
Seema Syed says
I could not figure out yet how the traffic in India reacts to Ambulance sirens. Everytime I am in India, I have been observing this and trying to compare this to that in Germany. Our traffic is total mess and many just do ignore the Ambulance siren as if they have nothing to do with it. Here in Germany, even thou there is a heavy traffic and congested or single lane roads, they just halt pulling their vehicles to left to allow the ambulances to ease thru. I hope Govt or RTA take an initiative to educate the best reaction in the hour of need.
I hope these valuable reactions from readers reaches the RIGHT person so that some kind of discipline is brought on Indian roads. Any body hearing , sorry Reading?
R Sriraman says
This article can be sent to Newspaper Dailies . Also now that each area (locality) in big cities have their Weekly News Bulletin, e.g. in Chennai – Adyar Times, Mylapore Times, T Nagar Times, this article can be published so that people who are not in the habit of checking mails/are not accessible through mails can also know. What is written is known to many including those who have given comments, but how far this is given effect to is for everybody to guess.
Nice thoughts to bring peoples’ awareness for such an important issue.
Yes, a good suggestion but the article can be sent to a single newspaper because of copy right act. Others can publish with permission.
Mohan Ramiah says
How true! Hope this is not construed as cynicism though it has all the merits- in India we drive left but we drive what is left of the road. The rubbernecking when that pleading plaintive wham-wham screaming is heard is mainly due to the bewiderment – does the Left mean only the political leaning?
‘We drive left but we drive what is left of the road’ well said Mohan.
Anita Gracias says
Another excellent article written by Mr. S.R.Ayyangar on a subject that is close to all our hearts and one that affects all of us, in some way or other, at some point in our lives. Creating a greater public awareness, through a blog like this, is a BIG step in the RIGHT direction. It is only when people are made aware, that people start thinking about such things in greater detail and that thinking can then result in a change of attitude, a change of mindset and a change in our behaviour!
Well done, Mr. Ayyangar! Keep up the good work! We all need to work together if we are to achieve anything and if we really want to see a difference in Bangalore!
Thanks a lot Anita, learning is a on going process irrespective of age.
Sai Appaji says
Thanks for doing you part in raising awareness among readers regarding this issue. I think it all boils down to discipline in human behavior. Unless there is a significant consequence for breaking the law people don’t alter behavior. In countries where they respect law and order and where it is enforced people tend to behave according to the rule of the law. In countries where law and order are not strictly enforced people think they can get away with anything by either paying their way out of it or using their connection in law enforcement. To change human behavior the law should treat everyone equally with no exception. Until that happens the problems will continue. The most effective method that is used in advanced countries to alter human behavior is the threat of steep fine. The fines of disobeying the traffic laws are so steep that people would rather not take the chance of breaking the rule. If the fines are not serious then people will continue to behave as they please. To tackle this problem law enforcement needs first to educate poeple about the issue. After a period of education then consequence for breaking the rules should be instituted. Without proper education you cannot enforce the rules of the road.
I totally agree but in India that also does not work. There is provision for fine for spitting or smoking in public place but not a single soul has been fined!!
Venkatesh Ayyengar says
The Articles were just Amazing !! I am always a big Fan of yours for that you look into life so closely & realistically !! Your thoughts motivates me each day I go through your PEN !!!
Thanks a lot !!
Great post. …and it’s something every urban Indian has experienced…glad you brought it up…we do need some serious training in civic sense:)
Thinking alone will not help, we need to act upon such situations too… Like one of the reader said above, who knows it could be one among ourselves in such emergency situations.
The training can start from our home, there is so much to learn dear Sharon.
Oh , some body told me that in Dubai, your license is conficicated for any traffic violation than how come this situation.
Deepa Gopal says
Its a genuine concern…good to see that people respond to it. As you mention about the case in India, its not very different here in Dubai. On hearing the siren not many think of giving way…I’ve seen ambulance stuck in traffic and signals many a times. I have wondered why can’t people value a life in danger! All the same police vehicles flash past you and have not seen them get stuck.
The suggestion is really good 🙂
Oh! I had a different perception about abiding by the rules there.. India is not lonely in this manners atleast!
Ankit Jain says
Could not agree more with you , the most troublesome part is the number of casualties we have on road , particularly young people dying in road accidents ..
I have written a similar post sometime back on 2 wheeler road accidents ..
Yes, another big article can be written on two wheelers specially in Indian context.It is amusing as well as dangerous.
HI Ankit, thanks for your thoughts and sharing your article. Welcome to my blog 🙂
I think this idea should be given a real thought….. very good blog.
Hi Farida, thank you and welcome to my blog. Look forward to see you often here 🙂
I had mooted the idea of having seperate lanes for ambuleces and fire engines on a blog post a while ago… i completely agree that people need to be more considerate when they see ambulences or fire engines… but imagine a situation where the traffic is jam packed and even ppl want to give way they cant… i know seperate lanes in India is close to impossible but we need to think of other possibilities prob underground systems…
Youd caan read my post on that here
Yes, on a narrow stretch of road if the same is blocked, nothing can be done except carrying the patent out! in case of dire emergency.
That was a nice read Tavish. Good to see the word being spread by many people. Hope it helps the needy.
k balachandra says
Thanks for enlightning the genuine pbm. Whenever I drive in the city if I hear any siren of ambulance it was bothering me toomuch. Whatever the idea & suggestions u gave everyone should implement & make way to ambulance or to fire engines, because who knows one day we may be inside that ambulance. Thank u once again.
Glad you liked the post. Look forward to have more articles from this author in future.
Venkatesh Ayyengar says
Thanks a lot for putting this thought into a perspective of greater understanding. Lets us all make individual efforts to make a difference to the system. If one individual changes & follows discipline then it motivates others too to follow the path !!
Let each one of us make the First Move at our ends !!
Thanks for this thought !!
It is my pleasure to have S.R. Ayyangar as guest author on this blog. I am looking forward to know and learn more from his experience in counseling for suicide prevention. Nice to have him here and I should be grateful for sharing his thoughts here.
Its my pleasure.
The idea of such articles are not garnering applaud but to create awareness.
I’m touched by your humbleness Mr. Ayyangar!
BTW I had heard of some cities trying out two wheeler ambulances to reach faster. Even if they can not provide complete medical care, they can give initial treatment which essential in such cases.
That is interesting! Never thought of the concept used in the movie ‘3 idiots’ could be realized in our country! Thanks for bringing that up Birla 🙂
Readers who have gone abroad can share their experience from that country.
I had to call ambulance to treat my mother while in Germany. It arrived in a flash and mother got admitted very quickly (though there was no serious injury to her).
Ambulances and Police cars (with flashing lights) gets a high priority and a separate virtual lane is created on a say 3 lane one way road. It is an offense if these vehicles are not given a way.
It can be implemented in India as well. People tend not to give a way to these vehicles because:
1. No action is taken is on you if you do not follow the rule. and hence nobody cares.
2. These ambulances are damn slow. In Pune mostly they have Maruti Omni which is a sluggish vehicle without enough power and even the auto rickshaw can overtake them on a traffic packed street. Even if you give a way to them, they can’t go much faster. If they have more powerful vehicles they can overtake other vehicles comfortably and other vehicles will not have to slow down forever.
Some thing like Germany has to be followed here too.
I almost had accident on the other day when Im taking a right turn in my car in a green light in Bannerghatta- Apollo hospital signal and out of nowhere came an ambulance. I jsut avoided a accident. Unfortunately since teh ambulance was coming from another direction from the opposite direction, I was not able to hear the ambulance sound. Even in green light we have to be careful in our roads.
This is all because no body knows which side one should go. neither the ambulance driver nor the public.
Sagar Apollo has their ambulance parking literally on road! No wonder you were faced with such a situation. It is a common sight of traffic jam there because of the hospital vehicles parking too. No idea how the concerned authorities give license to run such a big hospital who don’t even have ample parking space.
Thank god.. nothing happened to you on that occasion.
Bang on! This one makes me really sad too .. that ppl go abt minding their own business and paying heed to or atleast pretending so 🙁
Awareness is the mantra! Lets do our best and set the standards 🙂
We must and always give first preference to Ambulances,no matter what….but sometimes lane is so narrow that it gets impossible to let them pass through.Sadly many a times i see people not giving a damn and don’t budge even if they hear the siren and have ample space to let the ambulance pass…..what justifies this numbness ?
Not everyone thinks like you or me kavita… their own life is more important than the person in need of emergency care. Awareness is the need of hour.
shrinidhi hande says
And lot of bikers use a speeding ambulance to reach their destination faster, by chasing the ambulance as others make way for ambulance..
During Benny Hin show ambualnces were used to ferry VVIPs due to traffic jam…
Separate lane doesnt look feasible due to shortage of space.
Idea suggested is good.
Lot of unscientific speed breakers also prove deadly- as ambulances need to slow down and also the jerk caused can harm the patients…
Yes, it is for the concerned authorities to come out with specific programme.
Even I am too very much concerned about the jerk due to speed breakers. This issue needs to be taken up seriously by concerned authorities and provide a solution to make the services better, save lives.
rajesh surapuraju says
though some ambulance drivers take advantage of the situation, and siren even if there is no emergency, we should give way to them. incase if somebody is seriously injured, we cant take chances.
and may be they are going to pickup an emergency case. even a second matters 🙂
like your satirical view… hope everyone uses ambulance services only in ‘actual’ emergency times.