By Pranav Bajaj
Generally, the first hour after a traumatic incident is called the ‘golden hour’. This is because when medical assistance is given during this time, it can greatly increase the chance of survival of the victims and reduce the severity of their injuries. In India, the golden hour has a legal recognition. Section 2 (12 A) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 defines it as “the time period of up to one hour following a traumatic injury, during which the likelihood of preventing death through prompt medical care is the highest.”
During an emergency situation like a road accident, people know that they should call the ambulance first. It is the most logical thing to do. But then, due to lack of knowledge and experiential training in first aid, most of them are unable to provide first aid, during the golden hour – before the ambulance arrives.
A widely quoted study, commissioned by the British Red Cross and conducted by the University of Manchester, finds that nearly 60 per cent of ‘pre-hospital’ deaths from injuries can be potentially prevented if some simple first aid methods are followed. The number is more or less the same in the case of road accidents. If we take the case of India, annually about 5,00,000 road accidents occur in the country on average, claiming about 1,50,000 lives. But 50 per cent of the victims of these accidents died of preventable injuries and could have been saved if they received care on time, according to the Law Commission of India.
Paramedical Prowess In Emergency Situations
Every person needs to understand that in a medical emergency, he or she is a part of the ‘chain of survival’. In addition, paramedical staff and technologies too have a big role to play in enhancing the value of the golden hour for the victims.
Paramedics are people with special training in emergency healthcare. They provide life saving medical assistance, continuous monitoring and medical attention to the victims while they are transported to hospitals. Highly trained, these staff assess the victim’s health status and extent of injury. They operate medical equipment, prescribe and administer emergency oral drugs. Through these ways, they contribute to the better prognosis of the road accident victims and help doctors determine the future course of action.
Teleconsultation, home healthcare and other advances in medical technology
In recent times, there is an increased level of adoption of information and medical technology in healthcare. It has resulted in easy access to medical records of patients, reduction in medical errors, greater patient care, improved patient education, and cost reduction. Services like teleconsultation, home healthcare, diagnostics are now available at the click of a button.
The adoption of technology is also revolutionising emergency medical assistance provided to accident victims during the golden hour. To begin with, mobile applications help people identify and seek medical assistance from hospitals. Given traffic and road conditions In India, GPS technology helps drivers find ways to reach the nearest hospital in the shortest time possible. This reduces the turnaround time.
Thanks to the arrival of 5G-connected ambulances, real-time care for accident victims has become a reality. The technology connects patients, paramedical or ambulance staff and remote medical experts in real time. It enables doctors and paramedics to collaborate, as cameras based in the ambulance transmit high-definition footage to the doctors realtime. The doctors can access vital signs, and remotely guide the paramedics through a series of procedures.
Road accidents claim millions of lives across the world. They are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1.3 million people die each year as a result of road accidents. The key to reducing the adverse impact is the right combination of public education & training in first aid, strengthening the base of paramedical or emergency healthcare professionals, and adoption of relevant information & medical technologies.
At the community level, there is a need to create more awareness regarding the Golden Hour and to provide training in simple First Aid steps, while the hospitals in the private and the public sector should intensify tech adoption, and impart continuous medical education for paramedical staff in emergency medicine and healthcare. These initiatives will bring in transformational changes in saving lives of road accident victims.
(The author is a co-founder of Medulance Healthcare, a Delhi-based ambulance and paramedical services aggregator that provides on-site and on-demand facilities in emergency medical situations.)
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