CHENNAI: When A Karthik, a 32-year-old government ambulance driver at Government Multi Super-Speciality Hospital, Omandurar Estate, received a message saying his wife had given birth to a girl baby on August 8, he did not rush to meet the mother and baby.
Instead, he continued with his work at Rajaji Hall, where the mortal remains of DMK chief M Karunanidhi had been kept. His devotion to duty later helped save many lives that day.
Four died and over 60 injured in the melee at Rajaji Hall. Four ‘108’ ambulances stationed at Rajaji Hall could not enter the reception of the hospital because of the crowd. Karthik didn’t waste time, he took the hospital ambulance which was parked at the reception and started transporting the victims to Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital.
“My mother-in-law called me to convey the message that my wife delivered a girl baby around 4.30 am, but I didn’t go as the former Chief Minister’s mortal remains would arrive at Rajaji Hall around 5.30 am. I am aware of the importance of ambulance service in case of any eventuality at a place where thousands of people congregate. So, I decided to continue the duty, thinking I will go and meet my wife and new born after finishing the work soon,” he says. He joined service at the hospital two years ago.
“In my 11 years of service as an ambulance driver, I have attended to many emergencies. I have transported many dead bodies from train accident sites and other calamities. But this was a different experience. It was difficult to search for the injured in the crowd”, he says.
“We kept shifting victims one by one to the emergency unit of Government Multi Super-Speciality Hospital. But the emergency unit was full there, and ‘108’ ambulances couldn’t enter initially. So,we decided not to waste time. I started transporting as many as 35 victims to RGGGH. The officials later created a path on Anna Salai, where Metro Rail work is in progress and made entry for 108 ambulance. Then they swung into action,” the driver says.
“I also brought doctors from RGGGH to Government Multi Super-Speciality Hospital as we needed more doctors to attend to the emergency cases,” said Karthik.
His trips went on till late night, transporting dead bodies to RGGGH. “He called me late night after transporting the last dead body and finishing formalities. Only then he told me that his wife had given birth to a baby. I immediately told him to leave,” said V Aanandakumar, Nodal officer, Government Multi Super-Speciality Hospital, who later felicitated him for his dedication.