VISAKHAPATNAM: As the world battles Covid-19, Twitter has become a lifeline for many amid acute shortage of hospital beds and oxygen cylinders. SOS requests from people in need of help flood social media platforms.In response, several young volunteers have risen to the occasion. From amplifying to providing verified leads and helping in whatever way they can, the volunteers are working persistently on social media. @beds_covid is the Twitter handle for the website covidbeds.info, wherein one can get reliable information about the availability of beds in different hospitals.
Hyderabad-based Kapil Sriram has come up with this website when he decided to volunteer in Covid related services. The website was started in April sharing information about hospital beds in Hyderabad.
Now, it has expanded to Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Warangal, Guntur, Nellore and Kurnool. A team of 130 volunteers directly contact the hospital authorities in the seven cities in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh regarding the availability of beds and disseminate the information to the needy.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Sriram, a 30-year-old web developer, said, “The availability of regular beds, oxygen beds, ICU beds and ventilator support in different hospitals in the major cities is updated on our website on a daily basis. We got people of different professions as volunteers – advocates, Chartered Accountants, Human Resource managers, students and of course software engineers.”
He said everything is self-driven and things get done out of one’s own interest. “There are 10,000 visitors a day and we have seen close to 2 lakh views to the website,” he said. And their Twitter handle @beds_covid now has around 2,500 followers. Sriram had a bitter experience when his grandfather
contracted the virus in mid-April, which motivated him to start the website.
“It became very difficult to find a hospital bed for my grandfather amid severe Covid crisis. We spent a lot of time searching for a bed in various hospitals and it was then I realised the gravity of situation, and I should be of some help to those in need. Being a web developer, I merged multiple ideas and started the website,” he said.
“When I informed about the website to my senior authorities in Perigord, the software company I am working for, they helped me get volunteer support. Initially, my company general manager, who leads 300, came forward to make calls to a few hospitals,” he said.
As people of remote areas have less access and understanding of the web, he decided to take this initiative a little forward by starting a Covid bed helpline service. Funded by Perigord, the team led by Sriram started the helpline 089299 08928 on May 12. “As soon as I tweeted the helpline number on the Twitter handle, we right away started getting calls every five minutes throughout the night. We hear patients speaking while holding their tears. We get distress calls. We personally take care of them. We are helping as many as we can,” he said.
Speaking on its functionality, he said, “Our number has an IVR control panel like a call centre, so it can be routed to as many people as we want. Currently, we have 3-4 people, who receive calls every time on a round-robin basis.”
The team has added East Godavari to the portal and it is planning to add more districts in Telugu States. “The volunteer requirement is increasing but I find helping souls everywhere. Those who want to be a volunteer and help, can visit our site and submit the volunteer form,” said Sriram. “There is a sense of satisfaction in helping others. I urge people to spend at least 2 hours a day in sharing information regarding medical supplies,” he added.
The team, led by Kapil Sriram, started the helpline 089299 08928 on May 12. “As soon as I tweeted the helpline number on the Twitter handle, we right away started getting calls,” Sriram said.