CHIDAMBARAM:The deluge that brought down the entire Cuddalore district to its knees on Monday and Tuesday bore witness to the spirit of selflessness that makes us humans. An ambulance driver and a group of persons put their lives on the line and braved flooded roads and unforgiving rains to help a pregnant woman reach hospital to deliver her baby.
It was when the fury of the downpour was at its peak that P Venkatesan, an ambulance driver at the government Chidambaram hospital, received an alert from the 108 control room about a 21-year-old woman from Killai undergoing labour pain. Unmindful of the trees that kept falling on the roads under the force of wind, Venkatesan skilfully manoeuvred the vehicle for 10 km to reach the Primary Health Centre, where Selvakumari was crying out in pain. The battering had assumed menacing proportions by then.
Putting duty before self, Venkatesan helped Selvakumari along with her husband, Kavinkanth, on to the ambulance and started on a journey that was to test his mettle both as a driver and a human being. A few kilometres on their way to the Chidambaram hospital, Venkatesan realised that the going was getting tougher than expected. With the rain pounding, visibility had dipped to a few metres. Even as Selvakumari kept crying out in pain, Venkatesan decided to take an alternative route. However, he soon found out that the condition on the new stretch was worse than assumed. He decided to return to Killai, but by then the roads were inundated and fallen trees were blocking his way. Returning was no longer an option.
Speaking to Express, Venkatesan said, “I was at a loss on what to do. The patient’s cries were getting louder. In that moment of despair, I decided to call up S Ravindran, former town panchayat president of Killai. He assured that he would reach us with help. I waited for what seemed like ages until I saw a jeep nervously approaching us. Ravindran had kept his word. He risked his and two of his friends’ — Veerasamy and Paridoss — lives to help strangers in distress. Ravindran asked me follow his jeep.” With the jeep leading the way, they soon reached the Killai railway station.