It is a well-known fact that the first hour immediately following a road accident, otherwise known as the ‘golden hour’, is crucial to determining the chances of survival of victims – especially those who have sustained serious injuries to vital organs.
This is where patients in the city often suffer. Bengaluru traffic often prevents ambulances carrying critical patients from reaching hospitals on time. But now there is some hope, as the city traffic police have come up with an ‘Emergency Vehicle Preemption System’ which works on the basis of synchronising traffic lights at junctions with devices carried aboard ambulances to help transport victims to hospitals without delay.
When the ambulance is close to a traffic signal, the device ensures the lights turn green to allow the ambulance to go through.
Sources confirmed that this system will be implemented to about 500 government ambulances (108 ambulances) initially; and that private ambulances will soon follow. In situations where there are two ambulances approaching from opposite directions, the vehicle in the immediate purview will be given first priority.
The project was proposed in December 2014 and approved in early 2015. According to additional commissioner of police (traffic) Dr M A Saleem, preliminary tests have already been conducted on the junction at Sadashivanagar Main Road and M S Ramaiah Hospital Road a few months ago due to the heavy volumes of traffic and the proximity to the hospital.
The pilot, which was conducted both on ambulances and fire engines, proved successful despite heavy congestion at both locations, and the system was approved. Traffic police sources claim that the project will initially be limited to ambulances and later extended to all emergency vehicles.
Bengaluru-based company Vigilante has manufactured a device called an Opticom, which will be installed in both traffic signals and the ambulances. An embedded GPS receiver on the Opticom GPS vehicle unit determines vehicle location, direction and speed.
This is then combined with other vehicle attributes and transmitted over the embedded Opticom Radio once every second. A radio receiver at the intersection which is being approached by the ambulance detects the vehicle’s signal and passes the information onto the phase selector.
The phase selector then processes all priority requests, and based on pre-provisioned settings, notifies the controller to initiate priority in the appropriate direction meaning the controller is instructed to turn the lights green.
Once the ambulance comes within 760 metres of the traffic signal, the light will turn green, allowing the ambulance to go through; and once the emergency vehicle has moved ahead, the signal immediately goes back to red.
The Karnataka Road Development Corporation has been given the responsibility of installing these devices at all 350 traffic signals across Bengaluru; however, the work is yet to commence as the Rs 70 crore set aside for the project have reportedly not been released yet.
“There are 55 lakh vehicles in the city and this system is surely going to help several people reach hospitals on time. Priority will be given to ambulances and many precious lives will be saved by this system, which is the first of its kind in the country,” deputy commissioner of police (traffic-east) M N Babu Rajendra Prasad told Mirror.
In order to be doubly sure of the system, the ambulances will be monitored by the traffic control room in the traffic headquarters on Infantry Road. Work is expected to begin in 3-4 months, sources added.
Article written by Melvin Mathew & Alpana Chettri, published in Bangalore Mirror on May 28, 2015.