PALAKKAD: For over a decade, P Gopalakrishnan has been at the service of those who meet with accidents on the 45-km Palakkad-Kulappully road. An autorickshaw driver, popularly known as Gopi Lakkidi, he takes victims to hospitals nearby for free. And for that reason, the motor vehicles department has made him the convener of the quick response team in the Lakkidi area.
So what made him take up the cause? Compassion, of course. That apart, he himself had received a lease of life because of the intervention of a benevolent soul after a car crashed into him near the Palakkad Town bus station in 2009. “I lay on the road for 20 minutes as no one was ready to help an accident victim. Finally, a person named Suresh took me to the district hospital,” recalls Gopi, who was a mechanic at the time.
With multiple fractures on his leg, he was confined to the bed for eight months. He then sold his motorcycle and purchased an autorickshaw. “After the accident, I resolved to help road accident victims,” Gopi says. Sometimes, he even accompanies them in ambulances to hospitals in Thrissur and Perinthalmanna. He also transports women in distress. During the Covid times, his autorickshaw was at hand to take hundreds of positive patients to the hospital for nominal charges.
“I get calls in the middle of the night from the public as well as the highway police. I attend to all such cases,” he says.Gopi also posts photographs and other details of the accidents in various social media groups, which helps the relatives of victims and the police and the media to take follow-up action.Not many persons volunteer to attend to accident victims, says Motor Vehicle Inspector Ravikumar P M, acknowledging Gopi’s efforts.
“That he is someone who has to work daily for a living makes his commitment special,” the officer says.The department has supplied reflective jackets and stickers to the four conveners selected for the 45-km stretch.“They will also be provided with some funds to meet the initial expenses in hospitals. After the registration is over, identity cards too will be issued. We are awaiting permission from the government,” Ravikumar points out.
Once that process is completed, the quick response team members will not have to face harassment from either the hospital staff or the police, he says. “Gopi leads his counterparts in the number of cases attended,” the officer says.
Dr Rohit V, orthopaedic surgeon with the Valluvanad Hospital in Ottappalam, had this to say: “Gopi has brought many patients to our hospital. If the patients are eligible for assistance from the government, he takes them to the Taluk Hospital. People with such compassion are a rarity, for he does all that at the expense of his daily earning.” Gopi’s efforts have the full support of his wife, Saritha, a teacher at a private school. They have two children, Gokul Krishna (Class V) and Gosh Krishna (Class I).