Indian highways and medical emergencies – Highway to hell

I wanted to narrate my recent experience on my blog and I sincerely hope it reaches the relevant authorities and no other traveller ever gets to face the harrowing experience that I had on the NH7 , route between Hyderabad to Bengaluru.I was travelling with my husband [Caveman] and he was at the wheel in our Xylo, driving at around 90 k mph , considering it was an empty highway and the roads are usually very clear during the noon. This is our usual track and we have done this track several times during the past few years. The fluctuating weather was not doing his existing cold and cough any favours, and we were taking adequate breaks. Midway, around 265 kms away from Bengaluru, after a severe coughing bout, he blanked out on the wheel. I had no clue how to stop the moving vehicle, as his feet was jammed on the accelerator. I kept trying to wake him up, yelling, and trying to pull the handbrake on the vehicle. Simultaneously, trying to get him to consciousness [given his hypertension, condition] , my first instinct was that he was having a stroke, and I needed to get him conscious. I tried to tilt his head upwards, watching out for the road in the moving vehicle and after five harrowing minutes , he woke up. We stopped the car, and he seemed fine, I made him move his arms around, gave him Dispirin water, made him smile [All the things, that email forwards asked me to do to rule out an attack].

Made him rest and called my sister in Bengaluru, who got us some medical advice from a cardiologist. We were asked to get my husband’s blood pressure ratings and get a ecg done immediately in the middle of nowhere, with the concept of the golden hour after an attack driven home . I reckoned that I had seen an ambulance number on the toll receipts and was relieved, when the doctor told me that highways have ambulances and medical technicians stationed at every toll booth. I believed this to be true because we pay quite a huge toll around 600 rs through the entire way and some of the toll booths are very fancy with English speaking staff and seemed airconditioned.

We  called the number on the toll receipt ,got from the earlier toll to ask for the ambulance andenquired if there was any medical centre nearby. On being told it was not an accident, the operator didn’t seem bothered and directed us to the next toll before Gooty .Here again at the toll plaza , no facilities were present to deal with medical emergencies and we  were told that  their ambulance was stationed half way between Gooty[ A town] and the next toll booth. They were very generous in their advice and directed me to get into Gooty town to see a RMP.  By then we were half hour up, and I was tensed beyond imagination because my husband was driving as I do not know how to drive. 
Just before Gooty town we saw the parked shiny ambulance by the road side and approached the ambulance for help. On inquiring, we were  told the technicians were not around and had left for the day and only 1 driver was available. [ It was 5.30 pm ] On enquiring , how the driver planned to handle medical emergencies, we got a grin in response and got directed  to a hospital, we got the same responses with variations to it  on the next 3 ambulances that we spotted besides the highway. [so much for the 24/7 service displayed on the ambulance and their ‘saving lives’ motto]
We somehow reached a shabby hospital, where we got the blood pressure check done , and it turned out to be normal. Since my husband was feeling alright, we decided to reach Bengaluru and get some medical advice. We were told he had a cough syncope which occurs rarely among adults. He is advised a series of investigations and he is fine now. But I shudder to think of the consequences , if he would not have woken up.
 I  am miffed to say the least with the apathy of the highway staff and am appalled to see my taxes ,being used on facilities which do not serve their purpose. 
While I am still reeling under the trauma, and cant erase the picture of my unresponsive husband on the wheel, the lessons I I have learnt post the incident are ;
1)    Toll both plazas etc are nice looking structures with the staff, only bothered to collect toll , without being equipped with  details of nearest hospital, numbers etc.Three toll booths and main buildings that we inquired in didn’t have this information. Two were manned by NHAI and the third one by a private operator
2)      Ambulances on the highway were of absolutely no help , with untrained drivers and absent medical technicians.
3)      Response Times are poor and cannot be counted upon  to save lives in case of an accident or an emergency.
4)      The highways have improved in terms of build quality but negligence to important issues such as  roads safety are still prevalent.
5)    If corridors like Bangalore -Hyderabad, which am assuming are among the better ones are in this pathetic condition , wonder what the rural areas have to offer.
6)     I need to learn how to drive especially when I am the only person apart from the driver, during long drives.  I would suggest not to brush off even a normal cold as a innocuous issue. Please hire a driver or a taxi if you are not upto it even by 1 percent, because with my experience,  I  cannot insist enough , that you are on your own  on the highway , and it is always better to be safe than sorry.Please read and forward to as many people as you can because your loved one’s out there need to be aware of the highways to hell or shortcuts to prolonged misery.


About Thumbelina81
A dreamer lost in this world. Part time Writer, Part time Gardener, A full time wife.

10 Responses to Indian highways and medical emergencies – Highway to hell

  1. KP says:

    Pretty scary situation you were in.It could have been worse.Thank God for His blessings.What about police number 100 or the equivalent of 911.The issues raised by you are very genuine and needs to be addressed by the governments.Start learning to drive soon.

  2. SangitaS says:

    Really disturbing experience. It can be quite a shock for anyone, hope you guys are recovering well.

  3. tacokitten says:

    This sounds like such a harrowing experience! Glad that both you and your husband came out of that fine. I do share your grouses about proper highway facilities (I live in Malaysia) – it seems that we are paying for toll but things are not properly maintained. A friend of mine once had to use the emergency phones about 500ms apart from each other, as most highways are cut through remote places and there are no signals – she ended up having to flag someone down to get to the nearest town.

  4. Sangeeta says:

    Thank god both of you are safe. Quite a journey. Hope you get behind the wheel soon and it is always better to have a co driver on long journeys.

  5. magiceye says:

    Phew… that was indeed scary.. life in India sure is not valued unfortunately.

  6. jailive says:

    Sad state. But I believe in Tamilnadu it’s a much better scene. Tried reaching a toll on emergency in april2012, and the ambulance arrived in just under 15mins. Note: The toll was some 20kms away and it’s NH7 enroute madurai-tirunelveli.
    Take the complaint to higher authorities. I believe they would handle it. Else it’s Incredible India, we have to fight on road! 🙂

  7. Ram Acharya says:

    You are a brave woman Ma’aM. Any lesser person would not had the courage to do what you have done. Congratulations. Wishing your hubby a healthy and happy lilfe ahead and many many more miles of motoring

  8. ksbeth says:

    wow i’m glad everyone is okay, how scary

  9. mahabore says:

    That was quite a crazy experience on the highway. Glad everything turned out Ok in the end though.

    Have to completely agree with you when you say that public amenities at the toll plazas on the National Highways down south are quite pathetic. Forget ambulances and medical facilities, the toilets there are extremely dirty and unusable.

  10. I’m amazed you’re amazed that there wouldnt be an ambulance on call. back in 98 when i got run over by a beautiful tata lorry, in mathikere, about 2 kms from Ramaiah Med College, first off no one called the police, the driver drove off, and when the ambulance was called the driver had gone to drink tea and so they sent a mortuary van ! Not to negate your harrowing experience, but in India its par for the course… sadly..

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