One death in every three minutes due to road accidents – Is India becoming the Accident Capital of the World


Kolkata  ,

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India had made an observation in 2016 by stating that, “…For a nation on the cusp of economic development, India can well avoid the tag of being the accident capital of the world.” The Union Government has taken cognizance of this matter and it stands committed to reducing road accidents by 50 per cent by 2020. The Ministry has taken a number of steps to prevent such road accidents, including the approval of a national road safety policy. This policy outlines various measures such as promoting awareness, establishing road safety information database and encouraging safer road infrastructure among others. Over the years, the Medical Group of Hospitals, has left an indelible mark on the society by supporting the Kolkata Police and Jharkhand Police departments through a unique PPP model that has saved the lives of accidents and trauma victims.

To give proper attention to the road traffic accidents (RTA) victims, the Kolkata Police invited all the leading hospitals in Kolkata to extend their services, six years ago. Medica Superspecialty Hospital was the only hospital that responded to such an invitation. With the strategic collaboration among Kolkata Police(K/P), Medica Superspecialty Hospital and Eastern India Healthcare Foundation (EIHF), KARMA – Kolkata Accident Response & Medical Assistance, was formed on March 6, 2012.

“Till date, 22,899 people have been provided emergency medical assistance by KARMA and 18,927 RTA victims have been transported safely to the nearest hospital. The service is provided 24×7 totally free of cost to the road traffic accident victims of Kolkata. Besides, we also help any other ailing person across the city to reach to the nearby medical centres in their need, free of cost, as a part of our community policing,” said Shri Mitesh Jain, Joint Commissioner (Traffic), Kolkata Police.

Manjula Singh, CSR Head, Medica Group of Hospitals, said, “KARMA provides instant help to the RTA victims and transports them to the nearest hospital so that no time is lost in getting them adequate medical aid. Before KARMA, no other organised service was there to facilitate emergency services to the road traffic accident victims in Kolkata. Since its inception, only six RTA victims have been brought to Medica Hospital, which reflects Medica’s commitment to the community.”

KARMA operations are supported by the Kolkata Police Traffic Control Room & the Motor Transport Section and are managed round the clock by a Command Centre located within Medica Superspecialty Hospital. KARMA has a fleet of 18 ambulances deployed at various locations in Kolkata along with trained paramedics. With two emergency medical technicians apart from a Kolkata Police personnel and a driver, the ambulances, which are fully equipped with all basic life support medical equipment, receives 10-15 calls every day.

Sudeep Bhattacharjee, Regional Administrator-Emergency Medical Services, Medica Superspecialty Hospital, said: “The staff managing the vehicle are well trained on basic life support programme and trauma management techniques as they are the immediate caretaker of the RTA victims. The administration and management of the entire project KARMA is executed on a professional level. Each minute is recorded and evaluated regarding the service.”

Dr. Alok Roy, Chairman Medica Group of Hospitals, believes that the rise of accident-related deaths and fatalities across India is a rude shock and calls for an immediate action. “State Governments, Police departments and other stakeholders must come together to address this issue. During the golden hour, transporting accident victims to any nearest hospital helps in saving many lives. We are definitely proud to be associated with the Kolkata Police’s initiative KARMA. This remains an important step and definitely caters to the greater interest of the city and humanity.”

Looking at the reach of the KARMA project in Kolkata, Tata Metaliks, has come forward to support this initiative recently. On the request from Tata Steel and with its support, Medica started a similar project in Jamshedpur and Ranchi. With the strategic collaboration among Jharkhand Police, Tata Steel and Medica Group of Hospitals, Jamshedpur Accident Response & Medical Assistance (JARMA) in Jamshedpur and Accident Response & Medical Assistance (ARMAR) in Ranchi, were formed. JARMA was started on September 1, 2014 and ARMAR started its operation on May 20, 2015, respectively. Since their launch, JARMA has transported 1,452 patients to the nearby hospitals in Jamshedpur; while ARMAR has transported 2,534 RTA victims to the hospitals in the Ranchi vicinity.

“After the launch of ‘Safe Drive Save Life’ campaign by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal on 08th of July 2016, the Kolkata Police has been continuously campaigning the same to make aware all the road users regarding road safety measures by giving special emphasis on four basic “E’s” of road safety.  Out of the four “E’s” the last one i.e.  “Emergency Response” is being successfully provided to the road accident victims by KARMA. The severe injuries, post road accidents, which could have been turned into fatalities, have been avoided substantially due to the quick response to the RTA victims.The number of fatalities from 450 in 2014 has been reduced to 422 in 2015, to 407 in 2016 and to 329 in 2017, which clearly shows a gradual decrease in the number of fatalities. KARMA, thus, has been successful in addressing the trauma care requirements of the RTA victims in Kolkata. Let us join hands and further the movement of ‘Safe Drive Save Life’ to make the city safer,” concluded the Joint Commissioner (Traffic), Kolkata Police, Shri Mitesh Jain.

No doubt, a similar focussed and organized approach can also be adopted by other states for effective trauma care. It can also effectively minimize the number of deaths due to fatal accidents.



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