India plans to begin a motorcycle first-aid fleet that will be able to zip through the capital's clogged streets to reach traffic accident victims quicker, a report said Sunday.
The proposal follows a surge in crashes as well as delays medics in reaching them because of Delhi's growing number of vehicles, the Press Trust of India quoted health officials as saying.
The capital, which has nearly three million vehicles and 14 million people, recorded around 1,900 fatal accidents last year, with experts warning the figure could soar in the absence of a modern emergency-response service.
"This two-wheeler service is planned keeping in mind the high density of traffic in New Delhi, which is compounded by a spurt in the number of vehicles," city Health Secretary N. Balachandran told Press Trust.
Delhi in early 2000 launched a 35-vehicle rapid emergency service, but the four-wheeled ambulances often get stuck in traffic jams, experts say.
Officials said the motorcycles will have a driver with a paramedic riding pillion and will be deployed as a round-the-clock service after its launch later this year.
"Sometimes it becomes difficult for an ambulance to reach an accident spot due to traffic snarls, and most of the deaths involving road accidents are due to lack of timely medical aid," Balachandran said.
The Delhi government has also vowed to phase out 4,500 private "Blueline" buses, blamed for the largest number of accidents.
The city's state-run accident medical services hailed the project, the first of its kind in India where more than 96,000 people died in road accidents in 2005, according to the federal road transport ministry. And a study by the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre recently said the country had the highest number of road accidents in the world.
"Bike ambulances could turn out to be the golden feather in the cap of our emergency services if it is planned properly," said Sunil Pandey, of the Central Government Health Services.
"Most motorists do not give way to ambulances," added Deepak Raheja, director of the privately-run Hope Foundation for accident victims.
"The idea of the bike ambulance service is path-breaking," he added.