Viewing this image you would not hold out much hope for its passengers. I wouldn’t, either, had I not survived the crash. This was the vehicle in which my wife and I were going to the Bangalore airport to catch an early morning Dubai-bound flight. It happened near Bididi, nearly two hours after we had left Mysore, at the dead of night. Our vehicle brushed against a bitumen laden truck, taking a ‘U’turn on a high-speed highway.
We were at the rear-seat, asleep. I didn’t know what hit us, as I woke up to the crash; my wife had passed out on impact. Stranded on a highway in pitch darkness, I felt futile and helpless. For a few agonised minutes I believed it was all over, as my wife wouldn’t respond to my frantic calls, and efforts to shake her awake.
It must have been minutes, but seemed an eternity, before my wife regained consciousness. She was dazed, and kept asking what had happened, and why, and where we were heading , what for. Whatever I told her didn’t register, for she kept repeating the same questions, to a point when I lost patience. I found myself utterly at a loss as what to do next.
Our driver Mahadevan knew the drill. He informed his travel office in Mysore; called the police, and the ambulance service. Meanwhile a crowd gathered, even though it was past midnight. Somewhat irritated at our becoming a spectacle for curious passers-by, I gave vent to my frustration, asking the driver why he wouldn’t try to stop a passing vehicle to take my wife to hospital, instead of wasting time answering silly questions from inquisitive onookers.
I didn’t realise then that Mahadevan, hurt and bleeding from his right ear, was doing his best, unmindful of his injury. I learnt later that he had a slashed ear. A few minutes later a policeman showed up on a bike,but there was no sign of ambulance.
Under stress I get clumsy at handling things, even a cell phone. I managed to call co-brother Raghu in Mysore. I had a credit card, but not much cash. He called his co-brother Narsimhan in Bangalore, who was the first to turn up at the hospital at the crack of dawn. As it turned out, I didn’t need cash. The ambulance ride was free; and I used credit card at the hospital. Incidentally, it came as a relief to learn that the Karnataka government has a free ambulance service in place on the Mysore-Bangalore highway. So dire was its need for me that I would have readily paid a thousand rupees, if only I had the cash.
It was, I believe, nearly half-hour ambulance ride to BGS Global hospital at Kengari. The approach road to an otherwise well-equipped hospital is bumpy, and bad for fracture cases. And the multi-speciality hospital, located close to the highway receives mainly accident victims. I see repair of potholed road to the hospital as a medical priority in critical care.
Emergency service was prompt, and efficient. Dr Venkatesh who attended on my wife stitched up a nine-inch cut on her neck; had her right shoulder x-rayed for supected fracture; and kept up a conversation to calm our nerves. At my request he agreed to take a call from my anxious daughter-in-law, a doctor in the US. I found Dr Venkatesh a multi-tasker with reassuring way with words in dealing with patients – the kind, I believe, would be an assset in any medical emergency room. I wonder why a hospital that has a well-functioning ER and claims to have world-class infrastructure, including helipad for air ambulance, can’t fix its bumpy driveway.
On our way back to Mysore, after a day in hospital, I stopped by to see, for the first time, our damaged vehicle. The scale of damage may spell death for others. But I associate life, my reality of it, with that mangled mess on wheels, if only because my wife and I are still alive to see it. The image of the wrecked Sumo tells me that at times a split-second or sheer hair-breadth is all that is there between life and a pointless death.
Filed under: Airport, Bangalore, Cars, Doctors, Hospital, Karnataka, Mysore, police | 27 Comments »