Often, the first hour after a traumatic event is referred to as the “golden hour.” This is because giving medical assistance during this time can greatly increase a victim’s chances of survival and lessen the severity of their injuries. In India, prime time is legally recognized. Section 2 (12 A) of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 defines it as “the period of up to one hour after trauma during which the likelihood of death being prevented by prompt medical attention is highest.”
In emergencies such as traffic accidents, people know to call an ambulance first. This is the most logical thing to do. But then, due to lack of first aid knowledge and experience training, most of them are unable to provide first aid during the prime time – before the ambulance arrives.
A widely cited study, commissioned by the British Red Cross and carried out by the University of Manchester, found that almost 60% of deaths from ‘pre-hospital’ injuries could be avoided if some simple first aid practices were followed. In the case of road accidents, this number is more or less the same. If we take India as an example, the country averages about 500,000 road accidents per year, claiming about 150,000 lives. But according to the Indian Law Commission, 50 percent of the victims of these accidents died from preventable injuries that could have been saved had they been treated in time.
Paramedical Capabilities in Emergency Situations
Everyone needs to understand that he or she is part of a “chain of survival” during a medical emergency. Additionally, paramedics and technology can play an important role in increasing the value of a victim’s prime time.
Paramedics are people with special training in emergency medical care. They provide life-saving medical assistance, continuous monitoring and medical care while the victim is transported to the hospital. These trained workers assess the victim’s health and extent of injuries. They operate medical equipment and prescribe and administer emergency oral medications. In these ways, they help improve outcomes for traffic accident victims and help doctors determine future courses of action.
Teleconsultation, home healthcare and other medical technology advancements
The level of adoption of information and medical technology in healthcare has increased in recent years. It enables easy access to patient medical records, reduces medical errors, improves patient care, improves patient education and reduces costs. Teleconsultation, home health care, diagnostics and more are now available at the click of a button.
The adoption of technology has also revolutionized the delivery of emergency medical assistance to accident victims during prime time. First, the mobile application helps people identify hospitals and seek medical help from them. Given the traffic and road conditions in India, GPS technology helps drivers find their way to the nearest hospital in the shortest possible time. This reduces turnaround time.
Real-time care for accident victims is a reality thanks to the arrival of 5G-connected ambulances. The technology connects patients, paramedics or ambulance personnel, and telemedicine specialists in real time. It enables doctors and paramedics to collaborate, as cameras on the ambulance stream high-definition footage to doctors in real time. Physicians can take vital signs and remotely guide caregivers through a series of procedures.
the road ahead
Road traffic accidents claim millions of lives around the world. They are the leading cause of death among children and young adults aged 5-29. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1.3 million people die in traffic accidents each year. Key to reducing adverse impacts is the right combination of public education and training in first aid, strengthening the base of paramedical or emergency health care professionals, and adoption of relevant information and medical technology.
At the community level, there is a need to increase awareness of prime time and provide training in simple first aid steps, while private and public sector hospitals should increase technology adoption and provide continuing medical education for paramedics in both emergency medicine and healthcare. These initiatives will be transformative in saving the lives of road crash victims.
(The author is co-founder of Medulance Healthcare, a Derry-based aggregator of ambulance and paramedical services that provides on-site and on-demand facilities in medical emergencies.)
[Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and views expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website are personal.]
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