There are no regular arrangements in place for emergency vehicles in Chandigarh, which sees extensive VIP and VVIP movement. Last year alone, the city made way for the VVIPs and VIPs 3,711 times, as per an annual review of the Chandigarh Police.
The only road in the citywhere lane driving is implemented is Jan Marg. But traffic police say the road is rarely used by emergency vehicles. On the other hand, Dakshin Marg and Madhya Marg, widely used by emergency vehicles, do not have separate corridors for such vehicles.
On Monday, after the Governor of Punjab and Haryana, Kaptan Singh Solanki, went to the airport to meet Vice-President Hamid Ansari, who was en route to Shimla, Madhya Marg witnessed a traffic snarl. Two ambulances on their way to hospital got stuck in the jam and a patient died hours later.
The minutes of a road safety council meeting held before the lane driving was implemented (in 2012) were submitted in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. “According to the report, no other road in the city is fit to have a designated corridor only for emergency vehicles,” said SSP, Traffic and Security, Maneesh Chaudhry.
For visits during which the entire city is brought to a standstill, where the VVIP has to spend some time in the city, the police announce separate routes for ambulances. “We cannot designate a route every time. So many VIPs pass almost daily. Also, many VIPs live here. In addition, governors of other states visit the city often. Making an arrangement every time is tedious,” said the SSP.
Jagdish, a driver with National Ambulance Service, said, “In Chandigarh, we always face a problem when it comes to taking a patient to hospital on time in peak hours. We have to take the ambulance on cycle tracks and footpaths. It is best to have a designated route for us so that we can pass through easily”.
Dr Dheeraj Khurana, additional professor at department of neurology, PGI, said, “For every patient with a neurological disorder, early treatment is a must. In cases of brain strokes, we have a window of 4.5 hours, but in case of seizures, immediate attention is necessary.”
The SSP added that for having separate corridors in the city, flyovers and underpasses are needed. He said, “It is in the Master Plan of Chandigarh to have flyovers and underpasses. We are also waiting for these to come into existence”.
Both the SSP and Dr Khurana said the Administration could consider investing in a chopper facility for patients in the Tricity at least to be transported from one hospital to another. “These can also be used in emergency situations — during such VIP visits and traffic congestion,” said the SSP.
Police personnel at the traffic lines were also of the view that such corridors were needed. “Although we try our best to let an ambulance pass, it becomes difficult at times,” said a policeman.
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