During the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the public was plagued by a shortage of everything- from medicines to hospital beds to ambulance. Even if the cities fared a little better when it came to availing benefits, r3esidents of tribal areas faced acute shortage of medical facilities and some even had difficulties reaching hospitals. The tribal areas of Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu are no different as the hilly terrain and narrow roads often cause delay in vehicular movement. But to help the locals reach hospitals faster, a cafe owner in Coonoor has bought 6 autorickshaws through crowd-funding and turned them into auto ambulances.
Called AmbuRx, these auto ambulances are designed to speed vehicular movement on the hilly roads.
Radhika Shastri is the owner of Café Diem who has bought the autos and turned them into ambulances for the tribal people.
Radhika told the Indian Express that she saw on social media how these auto ambulances were being used in Jabalpur and thought of doing so in Nilgiris as well. She contacted the manufacturers there who agreed to build the customised ambulances for Nilgiris as well.
In order to raise money for the ambulances, Radhika requested her patrons from the cafe and also initiated a crowdfunding campaign on social media, from where she was able to raise enough money to commission the ambulances.
Within a month’s time, 6 auto ambulances were built and delivered. Six 470-CC Bajaj Maximas were remodeled and each cost Rs 3.5 lakh. Radhika spent around Rs 21 lakh in total to get the vehicles built and delivered to Nilgiris.
The autos will run free of cost after being deployed to public and private hospitals and NGOs in Ketti, Coonoor, and Kotagiri areas. They were recently inaugurated by Tamil Nadu Forest Minister K Ramachandran and Collector J Innocent Divya.
The ambulances have a driver’s cabin fitted ahead and also include a patient stretcher, attendant seating, an oxygen cylinder, drip hooks, a fire extinguisher, a first aid box and a fan.