KEMP Ahoy! Kerala Leads The Way!
On Jul 26, 2010


The other day I was driving towards my maternal house at Varkala. When I crossed Pallippuram, a motorcyclist coming from the opposite direction lost his control and rode straight into a tempo travelling in front of my car.

The man on the bike was thrown away and fell right in the middle of the road, bleeding and unconscious.

I was in a dilemma.

The story of the Good Samaritan loomed large within me, as a test of my commitment to the society. Easy to preach and editorialise. Here was a man, bleeding from a head injury. I had an appointment to meet. Taking him to hospital would upset all my plans for the day.

People crowded around him. Vehicles stopped on either side of the NH 47.

What to do?

Suddenly the number '108' flashed across my mind. I dialled. The person who picked it up asked for the location of the accident and said within 15 minutes the ambulance would arrive at the spot.

Did I do it to escape from my sense of responsibility? It could be, as my only experience of the 108 services was editing the story of its launch.

As the clock ticked away, people around the man questioned my wisdom of waiting for the ambulance at a place like Pallippuram, which is out of the city. 'We'll take him in a car,' said someone. But I dialled 108 again. The man who answered the call said the ambulance was on its way and he even told me where it had reached. I tried to pacify the enraged people and tried to explain to them that even if we took the man in a car we could never reach a hospital in 15 minutes, but the 108 ambulances had all the facilities of an ICU.

It was hard to convince them. Angry words were exchanged. I had a few men on my side. But as minutes elapsed and the thick dark blood from the man's head stretched longer on the road, I was under pressure. Did I make the wrong decision?

But soon we heard the siren of the ambulance, and it arrived before 15 minutes. I was surprised and relieved. The man was carried into the ambulance and the vehicle sped away sounding its siren. I sat in my car, relieved and impressed by one government service. Before I could get over my surprise, my phone rang. The caller asked me if the ambulance had reached and the injured had been taken away. He also said the service was free of cost.

Boy, I was impressed.

Within a few months of their launch, the 25 ambulances of Kerala Emergency Medical Services Project (KEMP) have caught our eye--screaming across the streets. But not many people know that it is a completely free service, and that free doesn't mean poor quality and service.

The ambulances, each of them costs about Rs30 lakh, are equipped with life-saving facilities like even a ventilator.

All these years we have been debating the complications in taking road accident victims to a hospital--who will be held responsible? Haven't we seen some moving images of injured people left on the road bleeding to death as no one would dare to take them to hospital?

Death toll from road accidents in the state is on the rise. According to police records, in 2009, 3,773 people were killed in 36,433 road accidents in Kerala. It is double the number of people killed in road accidents all over Britain.
It is in this context that the government deserves a pat for the KEMP services, and the home minister has promised that all the districts in the state would get KEMP ambulances. The next in line is Alappuzha with 15 vehicles.

It should surely bring down the toll in road accidents as most deaths happen because of unavailability of medical assistance.

But the KEMP has to do more awareness campaigns to spread the news and win the trust of people. Having facilities and services is one thing, but to make people use it effectively and properly is quite another.

The media has its role in making the public aware of such a facility. But we have been quite busy ripping apart the government. I still believe that we have to raise our voice where we have to. But credit must be given where it is due.

Philip Larkin wrote in his poem Next, Please:

Always too eager for the future, we
pick up bad habits of expectancy.

Yes, like expectancy, finding fault or criticism can be a bad habit that we tend to pick up as we are too eager to see everything in order and clean.

Criticism or negativism has been a bad habit that we have picked up during this professional rat race. Somehow we believe and put into practice that iconoclasm or highlighting negative stories is a sure sign of good journalism.

We have missed the bus. Sadly.

To stand out and be noticed, we do all kinds of exercise: we sensationalise news, we celebrate news, we politicise news, and we make mountains out of mole hills.

We only want 'topics' to sensationalise. Unfortunately, after a few days of celebrating a piece of news or issue, we look for a new 'topic'. We don't care about what has happened to the 'cause' we have been vehemently fighting for till a few days ago.

I believe media has to play a major role in creating a positive attitude in public. Let's write and talk more about these good things that happen in our society. Let's congratulate the government for the good things that they do--like the KEMP ambulances.

Let's pick up a habit of positive thinking, even while we criticise!
sabin yentha
Sabin Iqbal

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Johnny, on Jul 26, 2010 05:46:17 PM
A good initiative from the Kerala Govt! Does not matter if it exists at all places! - We can copy things from others, if we are sure they are good for us! This one surely is! Kudos!
Nobody, on Jul 29, 2010 10:55:49 PM
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