Incredible neglect by Ambulance Paramedics

On Friday, 11th Jan 2013, a few of us were going for a birding trail, and we were waiting at the chai shop at Mantri Residency Apartments, on Bannerghatta Road, for a couple of others to arrive.

Suddenly, in the pre-dawn dark, my friends (all young men) said there had been an accident, and rushed on about 10 yards ahead. Then one of them came back and told me that it was a girl who had been hit. A Tata Sumo driver had started the car and speeded up, and a young woman (about 19 or 20, I’d guess) had suddenly walked across without looking. There was no way he could avoid her, and he hit her. He stopped the van, and did not attempt to flee. One could say, literally, that he was petrified with fear.

I went to the girl, who was sitting, propped up against a tree. She was moaning, and unconscious. Her bladder had voided. I gently lowered her to the ground, and checked her pulse (it was steady, not thready) and checked her limbs for obvious fractures. There were no external bleeding or bruises.

The girl was dressed in jeans and a top, and we were surrounded by men, so I could not check her body beyond a limited examination. Someone had already phoned for an ambulance. I knew that if there were spinal or head injuries, moving the girl might result in an increase of the injury…or I held her head, keeping it low, so that she could get more blood into her brain. She tried, several times, to sit up, and twice, actually got to her feet, but had to lie down again.

At this point, another lady came up, and exclaimed that this girl was a maid, working in the apartment building (Mantri Residency). She said, "Her name is Sudha". So I left the girl after trying to get her to drink some water, went to the security personnel at the gate, and asked for the identity card of any "Sudha" that they had. They produced one, and yes, the photograph WAS of the girl. It gave her name as Sudha Ramesh, but contained no home address or contact number. I asked the security people to call up the people for whom she worked, and get them to contact her home, and ran back to the girl.

The girl seemed to open her eyes and look at me. She said, "Madam!" twice or thrice. Some people tried to ask her where she was from, but it was obvious to me that she was in no coherent condition. But I held her.

The ambulance arrived, and a lady paramedic got out. I was intensely relieved, that now this young girl would be in trained hands, and she would get over whatever injuries she had. I felt that they would treat her for shock, too.

To my horror, the lady paramedic did not even come close to us. She stood her ground next to the ambulance door, and kept asking if we had phoned the police. None of us had thought it was necessary to phone the police as well as the ambulance, but someone then did call the police.

The paramedic also asked if any of us would come with the girl to the hospital. She said they would not take the girl unless there was someone with her.

I asked the paramedic to at least check the girl’s pulse, and check her for injuries. Her reply was, "I don’t know what happened to her." Well, neither did we, and that didn’t stop me from checking the pulse and for obvious fractures, so why could the paramedic, whose job this was, not do this? No, she still kept her distance.

The girl was lying on the dusty road; I begged that they take out the stretcher and at the very least, put the girl on the stretcher instead of letting her lie on the road. They need not put her in the ambulance until some family member turned up. The driver and the lady paramedic turned a deaf ear to my entreaties.

Finally, the police arrived on a Cheetah motorcyle. Also, someone had succeeded in informing the girls family, and her brother turned up. Then, and only then, the girl was taken into the ambulance (not in a stretcher, she was made to stand up, and helped into it)….and the ambulance went off.

I was utterly horrified by the callousness of the ambulance people, but seeing that the girl had stood up and got into the ambulance (though with a lot of assistance) I hoped that she would be OK.

All this happened from about 6.15 am to 7 am.

On Sunday evening, I came to know that the girl had died at 9.30 am.

I am not sure if the ambulance personnel could have saved this girl. But I do know that the inordinate, inexcusable delay in their even touching her could have wasted precious minutes of the "golden hour" that follows any such accident…and they *might* have been responsible for her death.

Why are the ambulance personnel so callous? Surely, their job would be to help the victim first, and all questions later? Obviously they must have had some major issues with the police earlier, which is the only thing that would explain their stance.

Why must it be the duty of the general public to infom the police? Can the protocol not be ensure that the ambulance people themselves call the police as soon as they are informed of an accident? Knowing that the ambulance was calling, the police would also respond faster. And definitely, there should be not a second’s delay in the paramedics’ attending to the accident victim.

I am totally shocked by the fact that we, as bystanders, did what we could, and yet, we could not save the life of a young accident victim, and had to watch the indifference and red-tape attitude of the very people whose job it was to do their best to help her. Not even first aid was provided.

The ambulance was a BBMP ambulance, in the rush of events, I did not take the number or the names of the paramedic or the driver, as my attention was focused on the girl.

Please…somebody…tell me how and where I can take this up further. I want to ensure that other Sudhas do not lose their lives in this tragic, needless way.


  1. Ashwin says:

    Did you take any photos or videos of this event with your smartphone? The only way people in power seem to listen is if there is graphic evidence which can be shown on TV. Sad, but true.

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