Mangaluru: Calling 100 for police to arrive or 108 for Ambulance Service or begging with the locals/bystanders for help during emergency when a person is met with an accident etc seems like not worth and useless, you know why?– read further…..
On Saturday, July 11, me and my friend Niren D’souza, who had come down on holidays from Saudi Arabia had gone for a ride on my two-wheeler. Returning back at around 9 pm to drop Niren at his house located on Jeppu-Bappal Road, we were surprised and shocked by a horrific scene right in front of our eyes- and that horrific scene was to see a man ablaze. I have heard stories of people setting themselves on fire, seen in movies people burnt-but this was the first time that I had seen live a man burning right in front of my eyes. It was indeed a horrific and a sad scene to watch someone who had decided to end his life in such a drastic step.
Although it was drizzling, me and my friend Niren quickly got into action, as there was not a single soul around that area. I would really like to compliment my friend Niren for all his efforts and quick action in trying to douse the fire off the body of this burning person. We both tried to yell as loud as we could to alert the neighbours, but no one was ready to come out to help us. There was nothing we could find to douse the fire- but the quick thinking of Niren helped – he noticed a banner hanging on side of the street – pulled down the banner and with the help of it doused most of the burning flames. I noticed a gunny bag at the nearby garbage dumping spot- I grabbed that too and with it also tried to extinguish the flames.
In the meantime, I tried to make phone calls to the emergency police number 100- but all my five calls made to that number were in vain since I got recorded messages like “The call was not reachable”, “The number was busy” etc etc–Imagine calling a emergency number when help is needed badly, and your calls go unattended. Although I had made five calls, the telephone operator on the receiving end didn’t had the courtesy to call back, and enquire about why the call was made for. What a lovely “100” emergency calling system we have here! A call was also made to “108” for ambulance service, where the the receiver promised to send the ambulance as soon as possible- but as always the ambulance reached the spot after the burnt person had already been shifted to the hospital by car.
Niren also called his wife, Sonia (who is a nurse at KMC), who along with her sister, Sharol and Niren’s sister Emma came rushing to the accident spot, and got into action in taking care of the burnt person. While I was making few calls, clicking photos and also calling out loud for help, few people had already gathered around the scene, but no one was coming forward to lend a helping hand-they were just starring as to what was happening. Since there was no sight of ‘108’ ambulance, a call was made to the high-tech ambulance service that was launched just recently – although the call was answered at the call centre and the promise was made to send the ambulance, but no ambulance was sent at all. Is this what you call “High-Tech Ambulance” with “Low-level Service”?
As we didn’t see any cops arriving at the scene, Niren quickly made a call to their family friend, Nagaraj – a Circle Inspector-Law and order at Kadri East police station, who quickly arranged for police help at the scene. With all the noses around the scene, more neighbours came and gathered at the spot, among whom were also the family members (two women) of the victim who lived just a few meters from the accident spot -Looking at the burnt person they identified him as their own family member, and burst into tears. Since the ‘108’ ambulance didn’t arrive, me and my friend tried to convince three car owners who drove by the scene, but all three were reluctant to shift the burnt person in their vehicle- and I feel ashamed to say that one of the car owner was a doctor at a well-known hospital (as told by a resident of Jeppu-Bappal) who also denied help.
But luckily, at this moment the son of the victim, Sivaraman was heading back home from work in his car and was shocked to see his father in such a bad condition. Quickly with the help of few people gathered, the victim was lifted and put in Sivaraman’ s car and first taken to a Private Hospital and Later he was taken to Wenlock hospital, where he succumbed to burn injuries during the wee hours of Sunday. According to reports from Mangaluru South police Station, the deceased person was 68 years old Sivasubramani, a retired Railway employee. While at hospital, Sivasubramani had said to the police officers that he attempted to end his life because he was very depressed after the death of his wife five years ago. He had also told them that he had consumed some poison on Saturday evening, and later that night around 9 pm, when he reached close to his rented house, he decided to pour petrol on his body and end his life. Police have registered this case as a unnatural death.
The last rites of Sivasubramani were performed on Sunday at Nandigudda Burial ground in the presence of family members, most of them who had come down from Chennai. Speaking mangalorean.com this morning, Sivasubramani’s son, Sivaraman, who works as an Assistant Engineer at a Print Media Company said, ” We had moved to Mangaluru few months ago, and had rented a place in Jeppu-Bappal. We are four children in the family-two sons and two daughters. My wife, Poonkodi is doing her Phd at NITK-Surathkal. Most of our family members live in Chennai, except me and my sister-in-laws lived here in Mangaluru during the death of my father. We are all shocked at the drastic step taken by my dad to end his life. I can’t speak more since I am also in sorrow and terrible shock. My dad’s death is a tragic loss to the entire family”. Team Mangalorean extends heartfelt-condolences to the bereaved family members – May Sivasubramani’s soul rest in peace.
Through this incident I want to bring awareness and also to the notice of the citizens that only if the public had got into action quick in helping take care of the burnt victim and also if the ambulance had arrived quickly to transport the victim to the hospital, there would have been less percentage of burns on Sivasubramani’s body and he could have chances of surviving. But the lack of timely help from the public and ambulance could be considered as just another reason for the death of this elderly man. Yes we have too many Bystanders when accidents happen, but no one comes forward to help. “Indian mentality” ? Seriously man ? First things first. It’s not an “Indian” thing. It’s a thing human beings do. It’s called the Bystander Effect.
As Wikipedia so eloquently puts it the Bystander effect : ” is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present.” “The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders. In other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help” That should answer and clarify the issue, the reason we see so many instances of public apathy especially in India is because of the Bystander effect, coupled with a high population. Thus not only are more people witness to an accident/crime/what-have-you, they aren’t likely to help either due to the reason that a large number of people are witnessing it. If that makes sense.
Equally appalling is the chain of events after an accident. Every bystander wants to take a peek, but nobody wants to help even though at least 50 percent of the lives can be saved if the victim is administered basic care within the golden hour. The reasons for our apathy to human suffering are many. We are selfish and busy but, more importantly, we are afraid of a potential liability or harassment by the police. Human beings are driven by both egoistic and altruistic motives. When you are in a situation where you can help, you might consciously believe that you are saving someone’s life but, on the other side, there is the danger that you might be harassed or even accused in the case. And that’s what many citizens think and are reluctant to help a accident victim.
To assume, though, that Indians are more apathetic than Europeans or Americans would be wrong. The Western world has better legislation in the form of Good Samaritan laws, which indemnify those who choose to voluntarily help a person in imminent danger. What we have in India are vague directions from the Supreme Court. No one in India wants to deal with cops. Here, helping an accident victim is asking for trouble. Letting people lie on the road and die when they can be saved? It is really a decision that the country has to take, whether we amend our laws to allow people to help accident victims or we continue to subject them to the kind of harassment they go through. The laws need to be changed – laws should encourage bystanders to come and help, rather than put them in trouble for helping accident victims.
People usually think twice before helping and carrying accident victims to the hospitals. The reason being people don’t want to go through legal wrangling and police verifications. But that is the matter of past now. In a landmark judgment which will encourage people to come forward and help such victims, the Supreme Court last year had ordered the Central Government to issue an executive order in this direction. This SC decision will provide any good Samaritans a shield from all legal and procedural hassles in the hands of the police and the hospital authorities . The order had come on a petition filed by NGO SaveLIFE Foundation has accepted the majority of recommendations by a court-appointed panel.
According to reports more than ten lakh people have lost their lives in last decade and in most of the cases it was observed that the precious lives could be saved if they would have given helping hand on time. 50 per cent of these people die due to treatable diseases, which means they can be saved. Bystanders who can potentially save lives are hesitant to come forward and save accident victims and therefore, these orders are crucial. Now with this judgment hopefully people will come forward and help such victims. They will not have to worry about all these hassles. The Court has even told the Government not to reveal these samaritans’ name until they themselves want to do that. Those doctors also face consequences if they will not treat such victims on priority basis. Let’s hope precious human life will be protected after this judgment.
Laws or no laws, when accident victim needs emergency help, citizens should not hesitate to come forward and lend their helping hand. However is there any solution to avoid this thing. Or we are waiting when Modi ji will state this issue and then action will happen in the entire nation? Like Swachh Bharat. I need an honest advise from all the citizens of our nation so we can have a solution for this issue. We can’t let accident people die on the street just because we are ignorant and reluctant to help a suffering or injured person. Let’s change our attitude – in future let’s help those accident victims without making any fuss or thinking twice. And also that our police and ambulance service should arrive at the accident spot as quickly as possible, and not according to their time.
Also read related reports:
- Mangaluru: Attempt to Commit Suicide – Elderly Man sets himself on Fire
- Mangaluru: Man who set Himself Ablaze at Jeppu Bappal Dies