Act exists, but do Good Samaritans act?

Passersby fail to help as accident victim lay bleeding for 25 minutes; too late by the time ambulance comes in 

Published: 15th February 2020 06:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th February 2020 06:46 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU:  With just 15 days to go for his wife’s delivery, 26-year-old Ganesh P was to return to his hometown next week. But tragedy struck when he lost control of his bike and hit a pole. He bled profusely from his head. However, what followed was perhaps a bigger tragedy. Some eight pedestrians and about 20 vehicles passed him. Seemingly, none thought it was their responsibility to make a phone call which might have saved his life. He was left lying there for almost 25 minutes calling for help, till finally a man called an ambulance. But it was too late.

The tragic incident took place near Lalbagh Gate in the city on Tuesday night.CCTV clipping of the young accident victim has gone viral on social media.The sad truth is that Ganesh is among many people who die in road accidents everyday due to lack of immediate medical help, despite Karnataka being the first state in the country to bring in ‘Good Samaritan Law’ to help such victims.“There are many who still fear helping accident victims and fail to facilitate the valuable emergency medical treatment as early as possible to save the lives,” said a senior traffic police officer.

In 2016, Karnataka passed the law --- ‘Protection and Regulations during Emergency Situations’. The legislation aims at providing legal protection to people so that they can step forward without hesitation and help accident victims get to the nearest medical facility within the ‘golden hour.’ The golden hour, in medical terms, is the first hour following a traumatic injury during which medical attention is crucial.

In 2017, as many as 653 people lost their lives in over 2,000 road crashes in Bengaluru. A national survey conducted by SaveLIFE Foundation, a non-profit organisation working for road safety in 2018 to study the impact of the Good Samaritan law found that only eight per cent of the population in Bengaluru were aware of it.

“We found that nearly 28 per cent of people were hesitant to touch a bleeding victim. It was mere trauma for them to do that. In India, there is no community training to handle such patients,” said Piyush Tewari, founder and CEO of the foundation.Another reason, according to medical experts, is that there is no rule by either Union or state government on what those people who come forward to help should do in case they are still harassed by police or doctors at 4the hospital.

“There are still cases where policemen tend to go back to people who admit accident victims repeatedly for questioning. When this happens, people don’t know what to do or whom to go to,” said Dr Bhagath Ram, a senior physician at a government hospital.Concurring with him, Tewari said, unless and until rules of the law are put in place, it cannot be implemented successfully and people will continue to shy away from helping.

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