To tackle the shortage of ambulances amid the surging COVID-19 cases, the Kochi Corporation in Kerala has converted a huge fleet of auto-rickshaws into ambulances. These autorickshaw ambulances will primarily transport COVID-19 patients to the hospital and deliver medicines to patients who are under treatment at home. The service, which is kickstarting with eight auto-rickshaw ambulances, will commence on May 24, Monday.
Significantly, the ambulances will have the provisions of oxygen cabins, pulse oximeter and infrared thermometers. The 24-hour ambulance service will initially function in eight zones, including Palluruthy, Edapally, Central Palarivattom, Vyttila and Pachalam. The Kochi Corporation has initiated this project in association with the Auto Rickshaw Drivers Cooperative Society and as part of the Indo-German green mobility partnership, through which GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation) provides the technical and financial support.
â€śThe idea was mooted after the shortage of ambulances was reported amid the surging COVID-19 cases. There should not be instances where people struggle without an ambulance. Through this project, the primary requirement of many critical COVID-19 patients, which is oxygen support, can be ensured,â€ť said PR Ranesh, Councillor and Chairman of Development Standing Committee in Kochi Corporation.
The auto-rickshaw ambulances will work in association with the District COVID-19 Control Room. â€śFor now, the services will be made available according to the information we received from the COVID-19 control room in the district. We will soon roll out a mobile application through which the public can directly avail the service without having to contact the control room,â€ť says Ranesh.
As part of the first phase, 18 auto drivers, including a female auto-driver, have been given training. The training was based on the basic principles of how to handle a patient with COVID-19 and how to provide medical assistance, among other aspects.
On May 22, the drivers were handed over the protective gears that they should wear throughout the service.