Seventeen years ago, Dr Subroto Das was travelling on the Ahmedabad-Vadodara Highway with his wife Sushmita and a friend when they met with an accident. On that dark, rainy night, the car they were travelling in crashed into a tree. Despite the doctor’s repeated cries for help, it was five hours before the first passerby stopped.
The trio survived without major injuries, but the same cannot be said for the millions who lose their lives to road accidents every year. With the vision of preventing Indian highways from becoming death traps, Subroto launched Lifeline Foundation, a Gujarat-based NGO. With that, he was instrumental in launching an emergency ambulance service (108) in Gujarat. Now, more than 25 states across India have extended the service to their people. Recalling that day, to Firstpost, Subroto said,
“We were on our way to Vadodara when our car hit a tree on the roadside at around 1:30 am. All three of us in the car were injured and helpless, but help came only after nearly five hours when dawn broke and a milkman took us to the nearest police station…We brainstormed till July 2002 and decided that instead of putting ambulances on the highway, let’s create a network of ambulances, fire brigades, and cranes.”
Along with the ambulances, Subroto has a trained team ready to provide first aid and take accident victims to the nearest hospital. Any passerby can call the number and provide information about the situation and the team will reach the destination in less than an hour. Talking about their work, to Livemint, Subroto said,
“If you can get the accident victim to a hospital within that first hour, the chances of a full recovery are that much higher. Every year more than one lakh people die in road accidents, according to official National Highways Authority of India statistics. And most of these deaths are preventable.”
For his services, Subroto has been awarded the fourth-highest civilian award in the country, the Padma Shri.