Singapore funds two more first aid outposts along ‘death highway’
SINGAPORE Red Cross has donated US$360,000 to support building two additional first aid stations along the Yangon-Mandalay “death highway”.
The two new stations will be established at the 40 mile post and the 320 mile post of the main artery linking the two cities, according to the Myanmar Red Cross Society. Each emergency outpost will operate 24-hours every day and will provide pre-hospital triage and ambulances to transport crash victims to the nearest hospital.
“The construction of the two aid posts should be completed by the end of 2017,” said Dr Tha Hla Shwe, president of the MRCS.
The funding from Singapore will also be used to train additional volunteers in firest aid so they can help staff the emergency outposts.
The MRCS has been providing ambulance services on the highway since November 2011, and launched the aid post scheme in 2013 with an initial station at the 115 mile rest stop. A second aid station was built at milepost 285.
According to a World Health Organization survey, Myanmar is secondworst for road deaths per capita in the Southeast Asian region. The fatalities climb annually. In the first six months of this year, an average of 13.9 people were killed every day in road accidents, up from the 2015 average of 11.6.
Dr Maw Oo, head of the Yangon General Hospital’s emergency room, said at the beginning of this year that ambulance services along the roadway could be critical to saving lives. In any given week, of the 2500-3000 emergency patients coming to the hospital, more than 10 die en route, he said.
Over $273,000 from the donated funds will be used to build the two new stations, while $93,626 is earmarked for trainings and equipment to support safety volunteers from 150 townships across the country, according to the memorandum of understanding inked on July 29.
“Singapore Red Cross has donated over $273,000 to help its Myanmar counterpart build two first aid posts, complete with one ambulance for each post. We will continue to support this important work,” said Benjamin Jeyaraj William, secretary general of the Singapore Red Cross.
Most accidents along the YangonMandalay highway are attributed to driver error, but engineers have also admitted that the road is badly designed and was rushed in construction, leaving it devoid of many international safety features. A total of 4313 deaths occurred along the road in 2014. A Hlegu township motorcycle taxi driver was attacked by his passenger in a set up on July 29. Ko Naung Naung picked up a K500 fare and drove the passenger, whose name is not known, to Pipegyiwell village. En route, they were stopped by another man who was waiting on a motorcycle holding a bamboo stick. The passenger and the man with the stick, Ko Htay Win, 20, spoke to one another, before the man with the bamboo stick began to beat taxi driver Ko Naung Naung. Ko Naung Naung jumped into a sewer next to the road. The men threw a brick at him. The unknown passenger grabbed the driver’s bag, which contained K2500 and a phone, and ran away. Villagers arrived and spotted the fight. Ko Htay Win was arrested and is still under investigation. Police are pursuing charges under sections 114 and 394 of the penal code, for abetting a crime and causing hurt while committing a robbery, which could result in up to 10 years in prison. – Toe Wai Aung, translation by Khant
Lin Oo, Emoon and San Layy
A bus involved in a road accident allong the Yangon-Mandalay highway awaits assistance.