CHENNAI : Indian Institute of Technology Madras’ (IIT Madras) Centre of Excellence for Road Safety (CoERS) partnered with the Greater Chennai Police (GCP) to host ‘Road Safety Summit 2023’.
Accidents and emergencies have been the deadliest causes for an alarming increase in deaths and Disability-Adjusted Life-Years (DALYs) in India. According to data released by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) for 2021, road accident deaths in rural India (1,00,038) were almost twice that of urban India (51,379).
In many cases, the impact of an accident leaves a wreckage that makes it difficult to extricate the victims within the ‘platinum 10 minutes’. As a result, rendering timely medical aid is hampered potentially leading to preventable fatalities. The evacuation requires specialised training, equipment, and techniques for vehicle extrication.
Towards this, the ‘Vehicle for Extrication and Emergency Rescue in Accidents’ (VEERA) initiative was launched by Thiru M. K. Stalin, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, on 8th September 2023 at the Tamil Nadu Secretariat.
Several Senior Government officials took part including Mr. Shiv Das Meena, IAS, Chief Secretary to Government of Tamil Nadu, Thiru Sandeep Rai Rathore, Commissioner of Greater Chennai Police, Thiru Pradeep Yadav, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Highways and Minor Ports, Government of Tamil Nadu, and also the Managing Director of Chennai Metro Rail Limited, and Thiru R Sudhakar, Additional Commissioner, Chennai Traffic Police.
A demonstration of VEERA and the extrication tools were provided today (13th September 2023) at IIT Madras by trained first responders of the Greater Chennai Traffic Police (GCTP).
Highlighting the need for such initiatives, Mr. Shiv Das Meena, IAS, Chief Secretary to Government of Tamil Nadu, said, “Road safety is a global concern, especially in countries like India. In 2021, 412,432 accidents occurred and we lost 1,53,972 lives due to road crashes with another 3,84,448 people being injured. In our State, 55,682 accidents took place during 2021, and in the same year, one lakh lives were lost. These figures are quite alarming. We have a lot of work to do in this direction.”
Mr. Shiv Das Meena said, “Over the period of time, the quality of road and vehicles have improved but from the safety point of view, we have not kept pace with the development in other infrastructure. We need to work fast to ensure we minimise road crashes and where they happen, we succeed in saving previous lives, We need to focus on the ‘5Es’ model of CoERS, IIT Madras.”
Mr. Shiv Das Meena added, “Today, we witnessed VEERA, which can save the lives of many people. I appreciate and offer my since thanks to the Centre of Excellence for Road Safety (CoERS) and Director, IIT Madras, for assisting in development of this machine. I extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to M/s Isuzu, and M/s Hyundai for contributing to development of this equipment.”
Mr. Shiv Das Meena also added that several steps had been taken by the Government of Tamil Nadu, which launched ‘Innuyir Kappom’ initiative in 2022. Under this, the first 100 hours of treatment is provided free of cost in nearby empaneled hospital. The timely transportation is taken care of by 108 ambulances, which are stationed in regular intervals in Highways.
This VEERA vehicle was developed by GCP in association with M/s Isuzu, and M/s Hyundai and is equipped with the required tools such as a spreader, hydraulic rescue ram, a cutting machine, pneumatic lifting bags, electric winch, lifting jacks, and an electric generator. These tools will help in taking apart the crushed parts of the vehicle, leading to faster removal of the victim.
Speaking earlier, Thiru Sandeep Rai Rathore, Commissioner of Greater Chennai Police, said, “The VEERA concept is designed to address the gap when police personnel reach an accident spot quickly but are, sometimes, unable to rescue the victims.”
Addressing the Road Safety Summit 2023, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, said, “We are very happy that we are in a position to bring multiple stakeholders together on something that is significant in the context of saving human lives. The two important factors in saving accident victims is providing critical first aid on the spot and safe evacuation to a hospital. Today, we have the VEERA vehicle that can safely evacuate victims from accident spot to a hospital. Engineering solves many constraints in such scenarios. VEERA is an indigenously developed vehicle that can be taken across the country. This concept should become more and more effective and sophisticated in the future. Volunteers are being trained to provide immediate aid to accident victims and attend to some injuries to prevent blood loss.”
In addition, panel discussions were held in which experts from the enforcement and emergency care departments across India highlighted various important aspects in emergency response.
Elaborating on the need for more similar training programs, Prof. Venkatesh Balasubramanian, Head, CoERS and RBG Labs, Department of Engineering Design, IIT Madras, who is coordinating this initiative, said, “The CoERS is building capacity across organizations and departments. We work with the ‘5E Model’ for road safety – Education, Enforcement, Emergency care and Engineering, all of which are linked by Empathy.”
The key outcomes targeted from this event include:
Ø Knowledge sharing of best practices by experts for safe extrication of crash victims from mangled vehicles.
Ø Importance of victim rescue in the platinum 10 minutes to increase the survival rate of the crash victim.
Ø Identify enforcement challenges in managing and investigation of road crashes at the SOC.
Ø Encourage the use of data-driven and scientific strategies to develop targeted interventions.