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First aid box, the missing factor in buses March 31, 2006

Posted by scan man in Life in India, Medicine, News.

andal_temple.jpgThis is an article by Mr. Karthik Madhavan that was published in the front page of the local edition of 'The Hindu' today. Though it tells the story in Erode district, I am quite sure that it would be true of any district in the country.

(at left is the 'gopuram' of the Srivilliputtur Andal Temple which is the Tamil Nadu Stage Government's emblem)

ERODE: Most of you, while travelling in a bus from here, must have watched television. In fact, keeping in mind the convenience of the passengers, most private buses here have installed two televisions – for passengers seated on either side of the pathway. This has become the norm in this district, almost.In the Government-run Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) buses that do not have televisions, at least there are radio sets to keep the passengers entertained, what with the 24-hour FM stations beaming film songs.But, have you noticed a small box that is important. It is supposed to be behind the driver's seat, beneath the television sets, visible for the passengers – the first-aid box.It is difficult to spot it because most of the buses do not have one, and if they have, not as per the rules to say the least.Section 172 clause 5 of the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, says: "It shall be a condition of every permit of a transport vehicle that the vehicle shall carry a first-aid box containing the following articles: i) a copy of the first-aid leaflet; ii) twenty-four sterilised finger dressings; iii) twelve sterilised hand or foot dressings; iv) twelve sterilised large body dressings; v) one extra large, two large and three small sterilised burn dressings; vi) two 15-gram packets of sterilised cotton wool; vii) a bottle with two per cent tincture of iodine; viii) a bottle of sal volatile(first aid medicine); ix) an empty bottle filled with cork and camel hair brush for eye drop; x) a 50-millilitre medicine glass.The punishment for non-compliance: a mere Rs. 200, that too only for private vehicles.For the Government vehicles, the list of erring vehicles is sent to the District Collector who takes it up with the TNSTC officials, transport office sources said.A TNSTC bus conductor said the drivers and conductors were interested only in the moving parts and tyres for the safe running of the vehicle. "For us the presence or absence of the first-aid box does not make a difference."He said the Corporation filled the first-aid box only at the time of taking the vehicle to the Regional Transport Office for the once-in-six-month, mandatory fitness certificate.


1. Moof - March 31, 2006

Hey Dr. Scan Man … I don’t ride a bus very often, but I’m trying to remember if our buses here in the States have First Aid Kits. I honestly don’t know!

Sounds like a good policy though – if people actually comply.

The article said: “The punishment for non-compliance: a mere Rs. 200, that too only for private vehicles.” How much is Rs. 200? Also, are privately owned cars also supposed to travel with a First Aid Kit?

I did a Google search on “Tamil Nadu State Governement” and found the Wikipedia page … which is quite interesting. Underneat the picture of the seal, it says: “Established in 1773, renamed Tamil Nadu on July eighteenth 1967” … what was it renamed from?

2. It's me, T.J. - April 1, 2006

I don’t know…

I think I might rather have the TV’s too.

I could sit and watch my favorite show while I applied pressure to my wound.



3. scan man - April 1, 2006

TJ: God forbid. The last thing that you would want is to be involved in a vehicular accident in one of India's highways. I'll probably post something on the state of our emergency services later.. Suffice to say now that there is nothing like your Emeregency Response Teams, ambulances and helicopters here. Most victims are at the mercy of Good Samaritans.

Moof: Rs. 400 is about US $ 9 at todays exchange rate! I don't ride in buses too often either. But I do travel by bus sometimes to go home on weekends. I usually ignore the TV, which usually has a DVD/VCD of a Tamil movie running on it. I prefer to read or nap. And of course, I have my iPod to drown the noise. What surprised me in the article was the detailed list of emergency provisions that are supposed to be stocked in the box.

Tamil Nadu was part of the 'Madras Presidency' established by the British during their 200 odd years of colonial rule. In the 18th century, the British had 3 provinces – called Presidencies – in India; Bombay Madras & Calcutta, each ruled by a (British) Governor. In 1773, the British Parliament passed the Regulating Act whereby the Governor of Bengal (Calcutta) was designated as the Governor-General and made the supreme head of all the Presidencies. At about the same time, the legislative power in the Presidencies was also recognized. Isn't it interesting that the British were trying out similar stuff in their colonies in America and India at around the same time!
Madras is the British name of our present state capital Chennai. The British East India Company (BEIC) established a trading post in Madras in 1639. It was their second post in India – the first was in Surat (in the west coast near Bombay / Mumbai) in 1608. The present seat of Government in Chennai is in Fort St. George which was built by the BEIC in 1644 – the first British fort in India.

4. It's me, T.J. - April 2, 2006

Suffice to say now that there is nothing like your Emeregency Response Teams, ambulances and helicopters here. Most victims are at the mercy of Good Samaritans.

Gee… I didn’t know this?!

Then, even if there were ‘fully loaded’ medical kits on board the buses…

Do bus drivers have the training to implement treatment?

Is there first aid training for the general public?

Sounds like it’s pouring a bucket of water on a forest fire…


5. scan man - April 3, 2006

TJ, I sometimes wonder if our bus drivers are trained to drive 🙂 I don’t think they get formally trained in first aid. Though societies like the Red Cross and St. John Ambulance are active, their contribution is more like a drop in an ocean of ignorance.

6. Suresh - April 8, 2006

TJ, As someone who knows both sides of the coin (Transport Buisness & Healthcare) in India, I think I’m qualified to answer your question.

All comercial vehicle drivers must have undergone First Aid training before they can get a comercial driving licence.

. . o O 🙂 O o . .

That was me trying to keep a straight face while writing the above “official line”. Like most things here, the problem is in the implementation. I’m sure they’ve had some “First Aid” training. such as how to apply a Band-Aid. However in an accident they are probably worse that useless, such as being helpful in moving someone who might have had a pine injury.

If you’re ever, God Forbid, ever involved in an accident in India and the driver approaches you to provide first aid, I suggest running in the opposite direction, your spine permitting, of course. (Just don’t run in to the on-coming traffic.)

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