It was a feel-good Tuesday for readers yesterday, as newspapers highlighted the city’s first successful heart transplant. A donated heart was flown in from Pune and rushed 20 km to a hospital in the central suburb of Mulund along a ‘green corridor’ created to bypass the peak hour traffic.

Mumbaikars seemed captivated not just by the story of a heart, having come from another town to save the life of a 22-year-old man here, but the fact that the heart could reach the patient in time. The heart reached Mulund’s Fortis Hospital from Santacruz a distance of 20 km in an astonishing 18 minutes. In a city where commuting is a hot-button topic, it is the 18-minute commute that has us slack-jawed in admiration.

This story highlights the importance of what can be achieved if emergency vehicles get a clear corridor to move towards their destination. These can be ambulances or fire brigade vehicles. Sporadically, we do see authorities pushing for a dedicated lane for these services, but even we admit that it may never happen, given the traffic in Mumbai.

What people can do is at least try to give some way to these vehicles when they are stuck in a traffic jam. A collective effort from all concerned may just give the ambulance the space to reach a few minutes earlier, and make the difference between life and death. It is the same with fire engines, too.

Easier said than done, but some sensitivity, responsibility and some will, translates to better traffic discipline. People must avoid trying to overtake these vehicles and banish the tendency to simply ignore the
desperate siren wails. There is also an unfortunate attitude of looking at ambulances or fire trucks as just another vehicle stuck in traffic.

While corridors cannot be created for every case, let every person on the road create a space in their own heart. When we spot an ambulance in a jam, with despair and frustration on the driver’s face, we must do whatever is in our power to help them move ahead faster.