Traffic jams go killer, risk patient-life!

Stuck in gridlocks many reach hospital late, declared brought dead; Medicos concerned, Admin satisfied

The pesky traffic jams in Srinagar not only take precious time but are feared to be claiming human lives –at least of the patients in critical condition who get stuck in the gridlocks. On being rushed to hospital they often end up being declared: brought dead or morbid for life!
 While doctors endorse that almost everyday a patient or more are “declared brought dead or morbid” in City hospitals, it is often the unduly long travel time because of jams, which is feared to be proving killing.
 Leave apart the fate of patients being rushed from peripheral hospitals in other districts to the summer Capital, even shuttling of patients from one hospital to another within Srinagar is seen fatal. And given the “ailing health care sector”, not all patients are ferried by ambulances that too the ones equipped with critical care facilities.

 From SK Institute of Medical Sciences Soura and SMHS to Bones and Joints Hospital and Kashmir’s sole maternity, Lal Ded Hospital; no two government-run hospitals in City have a road connectivity void of traffic jams.
 Imagine the fate of a trauma patient with head injury rushed to B&J Hospital Barzulla. If he needs instant specialized treatment at SKIMS, the travel time on the 10 odd kilometer track could mean anything between one to two hours because of traffic jams during daytime. The ambulance has to travel via Solina, which proves the first obstruction. Here because of ongoing construction of Jehangir Chowk- Ram Bagh(JCRB) flyover, the traffic jams are almost a routine. After this the second obstruction is Naaz Cinema Crossing where again restrictions on traffic movement trigger chaos.
 Then comes the Jehangir Chowk crossing where Traffic Police while allowing mini buses and stray cabs to stop has failed to regulate vehicular flow despite intervention of the government top brass.
 The travel ahead to Karan Nagar chowk is another trouble because of chaos at Batamaloo which has a cascading effect on this busy artery. Then comes Karan Nagar the key road connecting to SMHS and SKIMS. Here too respite from traffic mess is bleak. This is the scene of only half the route.  At the end bus stand and pavement vending outside SKIMS is another big hindrance.
 A Neurologist at SKIMS agreed that many a time patient reaches the hospital late. “While the patient is declared brought dead, his attendants often cry that traffic jams hindered the travel,” the medico said asking not to be identified.

 Now take the case of a critically ailing newborn being rushed to hospital.  The twin access points to the children hospital at Sonawar: the Athwajan and TRC-Sonawar route are often jammed.
 A doctor at the children hospital said for emergency calls at times it takes her over an hour to travel from Athwajan crossing to Sonawar. “The left turn is often taken over by tippers. And this we many times brought into the notice of traffic authorities,”  the medico living in south city said.
 LD Hospital access is equally messy. Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal Park side access to the hospital is already choked because of diversions. The Traffic Police and the Regional Transport Officer on the other hand have allowed a main road outside this hospital to be converted into illegal mini bus stand.
 Some other key routes in the City like the Amira Kadal bridge is being allowed to be used as illegal bus stand. The other main access to the City hospitals, the Dalgate and Tattoo ground crossings are so choked that even traffic signals have been switched off by Traffic Police.

 The key road links of north and south Kashmir with Srinagar –the Parim Pora and Athwajan crossings have been in a mess for years. “Forget construction of much needed subways and flyovers, even the widening of his highway is incomplete for years,” said a retired traffic police official.
 Now imagine the plight of congested old City, the Shaher-e-Khaas which is void of traffic policing while a cabinet minister and legislator from there, Ali Muhammad Sagar, for six months says “augmentation of staff starved traffic police in under active consideration of the government.” But till now the Omer Abdullah-government, of which the Chief Minister holds the additional Home Ministry portfolio didn’t go for augmentation. His National Conference party spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu however says increase of traffic police staff is on the cards.

 Prominent medico and Doctors Association of Kashmir President Dr Nissar Ul Hassan said traffic jams were proving deadly for patient care. “I agree and endorse that traffic jams are deadly not only for those patients who are referred from peripheral hospitals to Srinagar but for even those being rushed within the City. When they reach hospital they are either dead or morbid,” Hassan told Greater Kashmir.
 “From heart attack and brain hemorrhage cases to trauma patients,” he said “For emergency cases, the golden hour matters.”  “You can save him or salvage him. He will either die or be morbid for life.”
 “Who is responsible for these deaths and morbidity? While patients are often ferried by private vehicles, we don’t have critical care ambulances. Our ambulances are like trucks,” he said adding “There’s no accountability in Kashmir.”

 Sometime back at an official meeting chaired by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Shailendra Kumar,  a Traffic Police official said due care was being taken for hassle-free movement of ambulances . But while not all patients are ferried by ambulances how could this be managed when traffic chaos looms over the City roads?

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