24×7 Ambulance Service On National Highways Made Mandatory

NEW DELHI (TIP): Now, developers and government agencies managing and maintaining National Highways (NHs) will have to ensure that ambulances and patrolling vehicles are available 24×7. National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to install vehicle tracking system (VTS) in all such vehicles with global positioning system (GPS) within a month to monitor their uninterrupted movement. In a circular issued last Monday, NHAI chairman R P Singh has directed all chief general managers (CGMs) to take up the issue with private developers.

He has cited the provision of concession agreement, where private developers are bound to provide “round the clock” ambulance service for accident victims and patrolling vehicles for the entire project stretch. Singh has pointed out there are often complaints of developers not deploying these vehicles crucial for shifting accident victims to hospital and to get crucial first report of jams, breakdowns or accidents from patrolling vehicles. As per rules, every developer needs to deploy one ambulance and one patrolling vehicle for every 50 km stretch.

At present, though 244 life-support ambulances and 245 patrolling vehicles are deployed on highway stretches totaling around 10,360 km, the deployment is inadequate. Moreover, only a small portion of country’s 80,000 km NH stretch has such a facility. The most recent global road safety report, conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), has also exposed how only less than 49% seriously injured victims are rushed to hospital by ambulances in India.

“Robust ambulance services reduce fatalities significantly as the victims get immediate treatment at spot and are rushed to hospital. As per the order, in case of financial need to implement this project the fund can come from the decided road safety fund available with NHAI,” said B S Singla, CGM in NHAI. Road safety experts have welcomed the move considering the fact that 37% of countries’ total road fatalities are reported from NH stretches. “Finally, the beginning has been made. But what we need is to monitor and control the facilities at local level for effective result,” said Rohit Baluja.

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