On February 12, 2020, a critically-ill five-year-old boy had fallen victim to traffic jam after the ambulance ferrying him to hospital got stuck at Nalco Square in Bhubaneswar, raising serious questions on the indifference of people towards the life-saving emergency vehicles.
One year on, instances of such insensitivity towards patients while being ferried to hospitals continue to emerge from different places in the State.
In spite of rules as well as awareness, people seldom care to give way to ambulances carrying critically ill patients.
On August 16, an ambulance on way to Tensa from Koira Community Health Centre to ferry a critically-ill patient had to wait in the traffic jam for sometime in the midway. This is a commonplace on Koira-Tensa road which is used for transportation of minerals.
“We start journey soon after getting calls from the relatives of patients. However, we are unsure about the time we need to reach to the patient due to the traffic jam. Often security personnel are found absent at the mines gate and many vehicles remain stranded. They will not pay heed to the siren. Sometime we have to wait for 2 to 3 hours,” Dileswar Pradhan, an ambulance driver said.
On August 25, similar incident occurred at Pipili toll gate where the staff halted an ambulance for a long time.
Ambulance driver Sona Saha said, “After reaching the tollgate, I found that all lines are packed with vehicles so I entered a line which was empty. However, the security did not let me go citing it was meant for VIPs.”
Mithilesh Tiwari, a tollgate employee said, “As he came through the VIP lane, I let the ambulance go after telling the driver not to enter in the VIP lane next time.”
Speaking on the issue, State Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera said, “As there are several gates at tollgate, at least one gate often remains free for passage of ambulance. There is no problem in the passage of the emergency vehicles.”
In 2015, the Odisha government had started efforts to develop special corridor in Bhubaneswar for the smooth passage of the life-saving ambulances. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had also asserted that no ambulance would halt in traffic. Though six years have lapsed, no plan did not make any headway.