Like many other marathons held in the city and across the country, the Bengaluru Marathon held last week was a memorable milestone for many runners. But for runner Kannan Sundararajan it was a race unlike any other. After all, it’s not every day that one gets to help rescue an accident victim in the middle of a marathon.
The marathon began as normally for Kannan as any race would. But when he reached the 20km mark near the Domlur flyover, another passing runner told him that there had been an accident on one side of the flyover. For Kannan, who is certified in first-aid/CPR, and is an advocate for road safety, this was a situation he had to respond to. Sprinting up to the accident spot, he found a terrifying sight.
“I saw this guy sitting on the median, with a pool of blood around near his leg, and his leg appeared to be completely smashed up.” Kannan found out that the young man had been knocked down from his bike, and a truck had run over his leg completely mangling it.
Taking in the situation, Kannan was glad to see the young man, Kiran Yadav L, still conscious. “Don’t assume that just because there is a crowd (gathered around an accident victim) that they are doing all the right things for the victim,” says Kannan.
People had tried to help Kiran, with someone tying a towel on his injured leg to try and control the bleeding. But Kannan found that some of the basic procedures like making Kiran lie down and elevate his leg to reduce blood loss from the injury had not been done. Since an ambulance had already been called, Kannan, together with another runner, had to calm a very stressed Kiran down and keep his leg elevated.
“When I tried to help him, I could feel that the bones were shattered inside. I could feel the bones moving… I haven’t ever seen and felt anything like that,” says Kannan.
When the ambulance arrived, Kannan was even more disheartened. “It was just a vehicle with just a driver. He didn’t even have any first aid equipment,” says Kannan. And when they had managed to get Kiran into the ambulance, the driver drove rashly, until Kannan managed to convince him to drive slowly.
Eventually, Kiran was admitted to Manipal Hospital, his parents called and Kannan could finally relax. "I felt sad that someone has to go through this experience… this city is extremely unfriendly to pedestrians and bikers,” says Kannan. Burdened with such thoughts and the fatigue of the experience, Kannan still managed to return and finish his marathon.
For Kannan to have encountered Kiran in the middle of his marathon, does have something of a ring of destiny to it, since Kannan has been on a mission to promote road safety and first aid and CPR training, for some months now. Kannan says he kicked off his campaign in April after he found himself in a situation of helping an accident victim just two days after completing a first-aid/CPR certification programme.
Enthused by that experience, Kannan blogged about it, urging people to go learn first aid. Although he received a strong response for his blog, Kannan felt he should push his engagement still further.
So, Kannan decided to embark on a campaign to raise awareness about first aid training. And because running is an integral part of his life, he decided to promote his campaign with running. “I decided that I would run 42 marathons in 42 weekends… The beautiful coincidence is that this year I turned 42,” he says. The Bengaluru Marathon was Kannan’s 16th run during the campaign.
But for Kannan, it was not enough to merely help Kiran reach the hospital. Since the traffic congestion had been worsened because vehicles were diverted to make room for the runners of the marathon, he felt somehow responsible for Kiran’s accident. And so he felt that it was only right that the running community contribute towards Kiran’s medical expenses which total over Rs 5,00,000, since he has had to undergo a series of surgeries to repair his foot and leg.
The response he got from his first crowdfunding experience completely exceeded his expectations. Just over a week later, Kannan has managed to raise Rs 3,92,000 through his Ketto campaign. Besides this, the race director of the Bengaluru Marathon also donated Rs 1 lakh towards Kiran’s expenses. Along with other cash donations, a total of around Rs 5,00,000 has been collected.
For Kiran’s family, Kannan’s help and generosity towards their son has been nothing short of astounding. “When I talk about Kannan, I get tears in my eyes. In this day and age, who helps people in such ways? If Kannan was not there, we would not have our son,” says Lingaiah, Kiran’s father.
Kannan, who has received numerous messages from people lauding his act and feeling sorry for their own apathy towards Kiran’s plight on that day, says that what he most hopes for is that this incident impels other people to train themselves for emergencies, so that they can lend a helping hand next time. “My appeal to everybody is don’t stop here. You have contributed, felt sad and sorry about this incident. But don’t feel sorry in a day in the future when you are caught like this but you are feeling helpless because you don’t know what to do.”