THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: At a time of acute shortage of oxygen, ambulances and other medical supplies, a travel agency owner in Balaramapuram - S Shahjahan - has converted his van into an ambulance suitable for COVID-19 patients. It is fitted with an oxygen cylinder and the service comes for free.
To ensure timely medical attention for patients, the ambulance will be available round the clock. While Shahjahan has currently readied one ambulance, he is willing to convert more vans into ambulances if demand arises.
On Saturday, Mayor Arya Rajendran flagged off the ambulance from the Thiruvananthapuram corporation office premises. "I decided to convert one of my vans into an ambulance as people are running frantically to get the services of ‘108’ ambulances, which are insufficient," Shahjahan said.
He has replaced seats on one side of a 17-seater van and placed a stretcher instead. “If a call comes from the hospital, we will offer the service and the oxygen cylinder can be refilled at hospitals and the oxygen war room,” he said.
Though the 54-year-old has hired a few drivers, he too is prepared to drive in case of an emergency. “The aim is to make the ambulance available to the people at the time of a crisis,” Shahjahan added. While he has received permission from the Balaramapuram panchayat and the Motor Vehicles Department to use his vehicle as an ambulance, he is awaiting an approval from the district collector.
Shahjahan is the state convener of the Karunya Drivers Helpline, an organisation formed to repair vehicles that get stuck because of various issues, including accidents. He does charge a fee for that. His services can be availed on the number 7736767739.