Singh saw the bloody flesh hanging loose from his brother’s knee and hit full throttle. It would take five hours for his brother to get the care he needed, in a journey that highlighted the deadly gaps in India’s emergency care system.
Singh didn’t bother calling the emergency helpline on the unlit Uttar Pradesh highway because he knew help would probably come late, and that it would probably be a police officer rather than a medical professional who responded.
His brother would end up needing an ambulance anyway, because doctors at the nearest hospital, a half-hour away in Bulandshahr, said he needed surgery that was too complex for them to perform. He had to make the three-hour trip to New Delhi in a small van with a stretcher, an empty oxygen tank, worn-out shock absorbers that magnified each bump — and no medic.
Image: In this Wednesday, Aug.22, 2012 photo, police help an injured woman onto a wheelchair at a hospital in New Delhi. Most trauma victims in India reach hospitals in police vehicles, because there aren't enough ambulances for the population of 1.2 billion.