TRAUMA CARE ON THE MENU By Vishal Bhandari Posted On Sunday, January 03, 2010 If you ever travel on the old Mumbai-Pune Highway, don’t fail to pay a visit to a humble dhaba that stands bang opposite the Dehuroad Cantonment Hospital. On a highway dotted with roadside restaurants galore, it’s easy to miss this no-frills eatery that blends the charm of an Irani joint with the informality of a dhaba. But Bobby ka dhaba is unique for a different reason - it is probably the only place of its kind that not only serves food, but also has a trauma centre associated with it, providing succor to victims of highway accidents. And the credit for this valuable service goes to the selflessness of its owner Amardeep Singh. A lesson for life Amardeep aka Babli Singh is like your regular restaurateur, running a buzzing highway joint that he took over from his father in 1971. Life changed considerably when his daughter Manpreet, born in 1987, was diagnosed to be *******. “We ignored the initial symptoms,” Babli reminisces. “Only later did we learn that she had a deformity in the brain which was incurable.” Then began a long journey of visiting specialist doctors and experts, most of who said the little girl would live only upto 12. Babli was heartbroken, but surprising all experts, Manpreet lived to be 18 before breathing her last. “Looking back I feel we were victorious in many ways but still ended up losing the battle,” says Babli. The turning point Manpreet’s death turned Babli into a recluse for almost a year until an incident changed his perspective forever. “I would keep staring at the passing traffic, lost in my own thoughts. I was jolted out of my reverie when one night, a fatal accident took place in front of my eyes,” he says. A man in a car was gasping for breath while the trucker had escaped. Babli dashed towards the dying victim, pulled him out of the car and rushed him to the hospital. The entire episode left a deep impression on his mind; it almost brought him back to his old self. And he decided to make it his life’s mission to help such victims in every possible way. The first steps Using the contacts he had developed with doctors and hospitals over the years, Babli would now call them up at odd hours and request them to attend to a patient. His help was not just restricted to taking the victims to hospitals, he would even fight the police to let them be sent to hospitals than waste precious moments in panchanamas and other formalities. Senior police inspector, Balraj Lanjle says, “Babli had tremendous will. We even altered our formalities to facilitate accident victims to be rushed to hospital.” At times, doctors wouldn’t attend to patients until an assurance of payment was made. But Babli managed to find a solution for this too. With a certain amount put aside from his earnings from the dhaba, he would buy a gold chain or make a ring. He would then deposit gold at the hospital and ask the doctor to go about his job. The project grows Gradually doctors, police and the locals came to respect his work. In 2000, Dr VG Vaidya and Dr NG Vaidya, founders of Lokmanya Hospital, Nigdi, approached Babli for what turned out to be his biggest reward for selfless service. The doctors offered to establish a trauma care unit next to his dhaba. “The word trauma itself was alien to me,” mentions Babli, “It took me some time to realise what the doctors wanted.” The patient, they promised, would be given immediate medical attention before moving him to the hospital and that too without any deposit or advance. Babli joined hands with the Vaidya brothers and the centre was set up. Nine years on Today, this effort has resulted in a fully-equipped trauma care centre at Somatne Phata by the Lokmanya Hospital with a fleet of 19 vans that arrives to help anybody on the highway and expressway, from Panvel to Satara, within 10 minutes. This had begun with only two vans with Dr Narendra Vaidya himself attending to patients. Today Babli proudly shows off the facilities the vans are equipped with and introduces the doctors and the drivers who save lives of countless people. And sitting in his dhaba, he also takes care of administrative functions. The team does some amazing work. As Vasant Mehta, a jeweler in Dehuroad and an acquaintance of Babli says, “Last month, two young boys met with a fatal accident, late at night. I called him at three in the morning and within five to seven minutes the trauma van arrived at the spot. Once we call Babli, we are assured that the van will arrive in time.” Bigger plans ahead Babli is thrilled with the faith and confidence he inspires but now wants to turn his attention to another issue - the aid of children suffering from terminal illness. “I could battle it out myself, everybody cannot, the government should subsidise treatment, if not make it free,” he says. Meanwhile his task of proving care for trauma victims goes on with the help of like-minded people like Sajan Thariyan, Vasant Mehta, Senior PI Lanjile, PI Pathan, Dr. Vaidya and Dr. Kumar among others, all of whom supported his enthusiasm to make this society a better place. supported his enthusiasm to make this society a better place.