Lifeline has developed a revolutionary concept for highway accident relief in India, recognized and supported by various organizations from all over the world. The Highway Rescue Project (HRP) is in line with international conceptions on emergency care, with a focus on pre-hospital care and initiation of treatment within the "golden hour" - the first hour after an accident.
Unlike other NGOs, Lifeline Foundation does not believe in reinventing the wheel by creating infrastructure. The experiences of others have made Lifeline realize that creating permanent infrastructure is the easy task; maintaining it is the more difficult and improbable one. Instead, the foundation networks existing facilities, creates a pool of resources and extends the reach of both to the end user. The network of service providers forms the backbone of the rescue and evacuation services, provided free of cost to the accident victim.
Through extensive mapping of the highways, accident locations can easily be determined without use of GPS, a very costly product in India. A Central Control Room is equipped with all necessary communication facilities to respond to distress calls and organize rescue operations 24/7, identifying the accident site in under 2 minutes. The nearest ambulance is dispatched within the next 5 minutes and the nearest hospital is informed to start preparations to receive potential victims. A network of providers is integral into the operations of the HRP:
- Ambulances: 211 in Gujarat, 60 in Maharashtra, 100 in West Bengal, 90 in Kerala, and 60 in Rajasthan owned by various institutions such as hospitals, NGOs, corporates, defence services, local government bodies, etc.
- Hospitals: Hospitals near highways have been graded on a matrix of available infrastructure and capabilities to treat variant degrees of injury.
- Blood banks: All registered blood banks along highways ensure blood availability for victims.
- Police stations: The extensive mapping helps to demarcate limits of jurisdiction of individual police stations/chowkies. This eases police coordination, and simplifies police formalities, thus preventing victim or first responder "harassment".
- Cranes and metal cutters: To rescue victims trapped in mangled or overturned vehicles, cranes and pneumatic metal cutters at regular intervals have been networked.
Since its launch, HRP has expanded its services to the entire National Highway 8 & 8A in Gujarat, National Expressway 1 (Ahmedabad - Baroda Expressway) and various state highways, with a total of more then 1401 kilometers. On June 21, 2005, the project was launched in Maharashtra. The expansion of the project into Maharashtra, and UTI Bank Ltd. partnership with Lifeline Foundation on 337 kms of National Highways and the Mumbai - Pune Expressway in Maharashtra has proven beyond doubt the sustainability and acceptance of the idea.
The Foundation is now expanding the geographical coverage of HRP into other states. The aim is to cover all four laned National Highways beginning with the left arm of the Golden Quadrilateral by 2015. While the first 263 kms took three years to launch, the next 500 kilometres took only 1 year and the last 500 just 6 months.
Lifeline believes in local ownership and partnering with local NGOs in each state. It will provide all technical and financial support for the first two years - the time required for the local NGO to take over operations under a common branding. The eventual goal is to encourage local ownership to ensure the sustainability of the project, both operationally and financially.
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