Oct 10, 2008

India - Trauma care NGO seeks funds

Soumita Majumder

BANGALORE: At least 58,785 people, who were involved in accidents across the city over the last eight years, owe their lives to the magic number 1062.

Their savior was a helpline belonging to the Comprehensive Trauma Consortium (CTC), a voluntary, non-profit NGO that specialises in rendering pre-hospital care within the "golden hour" to accident and medical emergency victims through a network of well-equipped ambulances and trained paramedics. The service, titled Operation Sanjeevani, currently covers the Garden City, the Bangalore-Mysore highway, Bangalore-Tirupati highway, Tirupati and Tirumala town. And if not for a slight problem, it could have spread its wings to other cities in the state too.

CTC lacks the funds required, and the government doesn't want to help.

"Though we submitted a proposal to the government long ago, there was no response. If we have to make our presence felt across the state, the government should come forward to fund the project. We cannot do it alone," Gururaj Rao, chief coordinator and trustee of CTC, said.

Dr N K Venkataramana, Director of the Manipal Institute of Neurological Disorders, had founded the CTC in 2000 after realising that the state lacks an organised, pre-hospital care setup for trauma victims. He was particularly concerned over the fact that people do not normally wait for ambulances after an accident, preferring to transport the victims in autorickshaws without realising that any damage to the spinal cord could cause paralysis. He had ensured that CTC's ambulances were well-equipped with trained paramedics to provide emergency care to acccident victims.

The organisation has to work in coordination with the police.

"On many occasions, we are informed about accidents, especially mass casualties, by the police. However, when the information is provided by individuals, our ambulances take the victims to the nearest hospital, which is then given the responsibility of informing the police," CTC coordinator A Vijaylakshmi said.

CTC has tie-ups with about 45 city-based hospitals. All the major zonal hospitals, including Victoria, Manipal, Mallya and Nimhans, have collaborated with the organisation. Sanjeevani ambulances comprise trained paramedics, a first-aid kit, suction apparatus, an oxygen cylinder, a spinal board and a dedicated control board.

As soon as an accident is reported to the CTC control room, an ambulance stationed at the nearest location is notified . The movement of the ambulance is tracked through the Global Positioning System (GPS), and the traffic police are alerted in advance to ensure smooth movement of the vehicle through the traffic.

The initial treatment starts inside the ambulance, while it is en route to the hospital. The Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in the ambulances checks blood pressure, does electro-cardiograms (ECG) and gives detailed instructions to paramedics on the course of treatment.

New initiatives
* Trauma care centres have been established in Ramanagaram and Mandya

* The CTC Vidyarthi Suraksha was launched in schools to educate, train and prepare students as well as staffers to respond appropriately in any emergency situation. Of the 600 schools in which this initiative was taken up, 300 were equipped with essential safety equipment such as first-aid kits, spinal boards and panic buttons connected to the CTC emergency centre.

* A Mass Casualty Rescue Ambulance Wagon has also rolled out, courtesy CTC. This drive was launched in association with the KSRTC to tackle mass casualties due to accidents or natural disasters. The wagon, indigenously designed by the CTC, can carry as many as nine critical victims and 16 non-critical ones.

*CTC DISHA, a novel initiative taken up in association with the Sankalp India Foundation, is an integrated network of certified blood banks in Bangalore City. Through the 1062 helpline, people can access information relating to blood availability in various blood banks.

Second most accident-prone
Bangalore comes second only to Delhi in the list of most accidents-prone Indian cities. Figures suggest that while road accidents claim a life every 12 minutes in India, about 8,000 accidents happen every year in Bangalore alone. Many victims fail to survive accidents due to non-availability of medical aid within the 'golden hour'.

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