Trishaw Knights

Dec 7, 2008 (LBO) – Often blamed for road accidents, but first on the scene to ferry victims of accidents or bomb blasts, Sri Lanka’s errant tuk tuk drivers are learning first aid skills to save lives. Drivers of the tiny auto-rickshaw taxis, commonly called “autos”, “trishaws”, or “three-wheelers” are being taught pre-hospital care to prevent disabilities, before formal medical help arrives.

“Trishaws are much quicker to get about and are often the first to arrive when a bomb goes off or there is a road accident,” said Janaka Gamage, a project officer at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“We want these drivers to be the first responders in times of emergency, to prevent aggravating the victims’ injuries further,” Gamage said.

Home to over 19 million people, Sri Lanka lacks a full-fledged ambulance service to respond to disasters. Only the capital of Colombo has a formal ambulance service, but it is not always the first on call for medical emergencies.

As a result, many of the victims are ferried to hospital in tuk tuks. These shaky contraptions, not only drive fear into other motorists, but their erratic driving style often aggravates injuries.