Even before people were yet to learn about the horrific accident, 30 ambulance drivers from Tirupur left everything and rushed to the site to rescue passengers and retrieve casualties.

Kerala RTC bus accident Meet ambulance drivers who rescued passengers informed kinPraveen SP and Damodaran at the Tirupur Government Hospital
news Accident Friday, February 21, 2020 - 09:38

Kerala woke up to the heartbreaking news of a horrific accident in Tamil Nadu’s Avinashi, which claimed 19 lives on Thursday. A container lorry rammed into a Volvo bus of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (Kerala RTC), which was en route to Ernakulam from Bengaluru, around 3.15 am, on Avinashi road in Tirupur district of Tamil Nadu. In the impact, a few bodies were mangled and the bus was completely crushed, so much that the rescue team had to use ladders and stretchers to take the bodies and injured passengers out of the vehicle.

On Thursday, while many were yet to learn about the enormity of the accident, in Tirupur, a group of 30 people left everything else and rushed to Avinashi road at 4 am, with the single purpose of rescuing the injured and deceased people who were trapped inside the wreckage.

These good samaritans, who have been appreciated for their prompt and selfless response, have been identified as the Tirupur wing of the Tamil Nadu Private Ambulance Drivers and Owners Association, an ambulance service network that doubles as a selfless and voluntary humanitarian organisation in times of need.

Recalling Thursday’s events, Praveen SP, who first received the alert about the accident said, “My phone rang at 3:30 am. I woke up and a person on the other end informed me that there had been a mass casualty incident in Avinashi. I immediately woke all my colleagues up and asked those who were close to Avinashi to rush with their ambulances. I then took my ambulance and left for Avinashi from my house in Vellakovil, which is 50 kilometres away. But none of us could grasp the magnitude of the accident until we got there.”

Over seven hours on Thursday, the ambulance drivers from across Tirupur converged at Avinashi and combed through the wreckage of the accident. In the end, they successfully retrieved the bodies of all 19 casualties who were stuck inside the bus.

“Some of the bodies were extremely hard to recover. Due to the impact of the container on the bus, some of the casualties had even lost their body parts,” said Praveen.

As members retrieved the bodies from the wreckage and rushed the injured passengers to hospitals across Tirupur, other drivers of the organisation simultaneously co-ordinated with the families of deceased and injured persons.

Identification of casualties and hospitalisation of injured became a top priority, said 30-year old Damodaran, another member who was crucial in the rescue efforts on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters at the Government Hospital in Tirupur, where the post-mortem of the deceased persons was being performed, Damodaran managed to fix a smile on his face. But his eyes betrayed the grief and trauma that he and his colleagues experienced first hand over the past few hours. Damodaran had the painful duty of informing family members about the deaths of their loved ones, helping them identify the deceased kin and racing against time to hospitalise seriously injured passengers.

“I have been in this organisation for eight years now. We have helped several accident victims and casualties entirely free of cost. But this is the first time that I have witnessed something so brutal,” he said, before adding that his heart went out to the families of all those who died in the accident.

The 30 member group has rescued accident victims and lent helping hands to their families several times over the last eight years. All of these humanitarian efforts were done free of cost, said Damodaran.

“All 30 of us have an understanding that we will never ask for money for helping those during such incidents. It’s a traumatic experience as it is, and the least we can do is help those who are suffering,” Damodaran added.

And as the conversation reverts to the day’s events, his face turned gloomy. “Whatever we do would not be enough for those who have suffered today. But all I have to offer is this — my entire life is dedicated to saving people and rescuing lives. And today, I did my job,” he said.

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