As the second wave of the virus spreads through India, thousands are getting infected and admitted into various medical facilities all over the country. With the second wave, many families have broken beyond repair. The loss of life has been saddening and daunting for India as it continues to fight the virus.
While the Government believes that the situation is “under control”, the health infrastructure has reached its breaking point while tending to every patient. The local superheroes have taken on themselves to enter the battlefield and save as many lives as possible. These superheroes are none other than our beloved Auto Rickshaw drivers.
India has always been a country where most of the population depends on local transportation for their various commutes within the cities, from Mumbai Local Trains to buses and Auto Rickshaws. They are the bloodline of cities that makes the city up and going for work all day for years now.
All of us have an abundance of attachment towards the Mumbai Local trains. It’s an experience that everyone tends to have when in Mumbai. The feeling of happiness you get when your Ola Auto driver doesn’t cancel your ride after an exhausting day at college or work is just inexpressible.
Due to the pandemic, Local transportation is another victim facing the brunt of the virus. Many lives have been affected in the sector, resulting in unemployment for several workers. Yet, our brave Auto Drivers have taken matters into their hands and decided to help people in their city in their unique way.
Reportedly, Auto drivers across the country have converted their Auto Rickshaws into oxygenated ambulances. They provide their services to households facing an issue to get immediate medical help or transportation from the hospitals due to the rush in the Emergency wards.
These oxygenated ambulances have support facilities that can last 6-7 hours and have equipped their ambulances with a PPE kit along with a plastic shield that separates the driver and the patient for safety precautions. The emergency kit includes an oxygen cylinder, oximeter, and sanitiser to provide immediate relief to the patient. Most of these drivers aren’t affiliated with any Non-Governmental Organisations or any other Covid relief groups. They have formed a community to cover localities in the city to reach maximum patients and help save lives.
The Auto-Drivers have been kind enough to provide these services for free. One such example is Javed Mohammed Khan, a citizen of Bhopal Madhya Pradesh. He recently told Quartz India that he believes that money can be managed later. At this point, saving lives is more important. He was motivated to convert his auto into an ambulance by the number of posts and messages he witnessed on his Facebook and WhatsApp regarding the increasing emergency cases and the unavailability of oxygen beds in the city. His act of kindness saved the lives of many people even though it cost him his livelihood.
Similar cases have been reported in Pune, where the auto drivers have initiated a community group called “Jugaad Ambulances,” where drivers provide three oxygen cylinders in their ambulance. They help patients reach a hospital with available oxygen beds for further medical attention. In Pune, 100 such auto drivers are similarly equipped to help the patients safely transfer them to the hospitals. The charges for these services are minimal and free of cost for the poor, reported ANI.
The idea of Auto Ambulances progressed during the second wave. Some auto drivers had been offering these services since the lockdown in March last year. Jitendra Shinde, an auto driver from Kolhapur, Maharashtra, has been helping people with his ambulance since the previous year. He has ferried almost 1000 Covid patients to the hospital.
The reason behind his involvement is that he lost his parents at a young age. He understands the pain of losing family and thus wanted to help prevent loss of life in his city and started to help by using his Auto Rickshaw to ferry the patients back and forth from the hospitals. This act of kindness cost him a 2lakh rupee, but he believes in saving people rather than worrying about the finances.
These local superheroes are putting in extra effort to train themselves on how to read the oximeter and help patients use the oxygen mask even—other essential steps are being followed up in this training. Hence, they help the severe patients with utmost safety until they reach the hospital.
In Maharashtra, these activities are self-initiated. Whereas, In New Delhi, the state government launched a similar service. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member Sanjay Singh started with ten auto-ambulances and collaborated with a Delhi-based NGO called the TYCIA Foundation (Turn Your Concern Into Action Foundation). These auto-ambulances can carry mild-symptomatic patients with oxygen saturation levels between 85 and 90. These auto-ambulances have circulated their mobile numbers in various WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages for immediate help or transfer to the hospital.