Delhi accident victims a windfall for Good Samaritans

Delhi: Anyone in the Indian capital who takes a road accident victim to the nearest private hospital within the "golden hour", when medical treatment is most likely to succeed, will now receive a cash bonus of 2000 rupees ($41) for being a Good Samaritan.

Victims of a fire or an acid attack will also be covered by the scheme.

The Delhi government is offering the incentive to reduce the carnage on the roads - four people die every day in accidents caused by insanely reckless or drunken driving (or both).

Mostly, passers-by do not stop to help, primarily because they fear getting entangled with the police and suffering harassment. The fear of having to appear in court as an eye-witness in the case, involving taking time off work for trials that can last years, is also another deterrent.

From now, though, the government has promised that passers-by who rush victims to a hospital will not suffer any police harassment and will be rewarded with both the cash bonus and a certificate of "good character".

Moreover, the government has promised to pay in full for the treatment of the victims in private hospitals. It's not yet clear how the funding will be arranged between the government and the private hospitals.

Currently if passers-by do help, they invariably take road accident victims to a government hospital where treatment is free. The problem is that this is often not the nearest hospital to the accident site and precious time is lost. Helpers also know that a public hospital will treat the victim, whereas they may be refuse treatment or not have adequate medical insurance for a private hospital.

Piyush Tewari, founder of the Save Life Foundation which trains Delhi police in life-saving care for crash victims, said the new policy of full payment for medical treatment and the financial reward could be a game-changer in reducing road deaths.

"It could be abused if, say, the Good Samaritan and the hospital are in cahoots but I'm sure they will have checks in place - such as the rewards being paid by cheque and asking the hospital to provide an undertaking that the victim is not related to the Good Samaritan etc - that should help prevent abuse," Tewari said.

This story Delhi accident victims a windfall for Good Samaritans first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.