BENGALURU: The formulation of Good Samaritan law to protect people who help accident victims has helped, but there needs to be more awareness of it, say subject experts and officials. On Sunday morning, Siddu Hugar (25), a KSRTC security staffer, was critically injured after suffering a road accident on the Mysore Road flyover. As he lay bleeding on the road, none of the passers-by rushed him to a hospital; instead, they took pictures and videos of him lying there struggling for life.
Hugar lost his life, and as per doctors who attended to him, he could have been saved had he been brought to the hospital just 10 minutes earlier than he was.
In February 2016, after another victim Harish Ninjappa suffered the same fate, the State government passed the Karnataka Good Samaritan and Medical Professional Bill, 2016 to ensure people who help accident victims do not face any legal or procedural harassment.
Subject experts say the incident indicates there is a lack of awareness of it, and also reveals a negative aspect of social media, which makes people take videos and photos using their mobile phones to forward to their family and friends in preference over rushing the victim to a hospital.
Piyush Tewari, Founder & CEO, SaveLIFE Foundation, says the law is essential to enhance chances of the victim’s survival during the ‘golden hour’ i.e. the first hour of the injury. “However, the challenge is to communicate to people that they have a new right and they should feel the confidence to exercise it. In this, all stakeholders including various state governments should ensure that they raise awareness about this issue,” Tewari said.
Satish Ramaiah, a psychiatrist at People Tree Hospital, reinforced this view and said such incidents indicate people are still scared of legal and procedural consequences which plays on their mind, leading them to refrain from helping victims. “But taking videos of victims is a different aspect, and can be attributed to their need to seek validation on social media. This validation, of being appreciated by society at last, becomes a priority over helping people,” he said.
Director, Department of Health and Family Welfare Dr. Srinivasa Gowda said such incidents were rare, but it was still a concern that they occurred. “So many samaritans have shifted accident victims in their own vehicles even if the victim is bleeding. The department has also announced incentives for people who help victims.”
He also termed the practice of shooting videos of victims ‘inhuman,’ and called for awareness to refrain people from doing so.
Mukhyamantri Santwana Harish Yojana Provides 48-Hour Free Medical Aid To Save A Life
Often there is a fear among the common people witnessing an accident that they might have to shell out the medical expenses if they took the initiative of rushing the victim to the hospital. However, Karnataka in March 2016 launched a new free medical help scheme after the dreadful death of Harish Nanjappa in February 2016. The youth donated his eyes in his last breaths even as he lay spilt into two at the waist after he was run over by a sugar cargo-loaded truck on Tumkur Road. The new scheme, named after Harish — Mukhyamantri Santwana Harish Yojana — provides free medical help to road accident victims up to 48 hours and is applicable to any victim irrespective of financial status or caste or religion. The scheme aims at serving accident victims as soon as possible to ensure their survival.