Divya S., a patient in her early 20s in labour was rushed to the K.C. General Hospital in an autorickshaw as her family feared that the ambulance services may not have reached on time, thanks to the strike by the drivers and paramedical staff of 108 services.
Her brother-in-law, Manju D.J., said the drive to the hospital was “scary”. “It was extremely dangerous to bring her in an auto in that condition, but we decided to do it as we feared that the ambulance may not turn up.”
Muniraju G. was another worried person at the hospital as his father, V. Gangaiah (75), was rushed to the hospital when he was breathless. Luckily for them, they were able to get an ambulance. But he still had a grouse. “The government needs to understand that the strike inconveniences people. Although, the ambulance came to our house on time, there was no paramedical staff to provide basic treatment,” he said.
Even as the strike called by the Arogya Kavacha 108 Ambulance Employees' Sangha entered the third day and affected the citizens, the members of the sangha said their strike would continue until the government meets their demands.
R. Sridhar, president of the sangha, said that workers attached to the 108 services across the State gathered at Freedom Park on Sunday. “We will not move from here until the government engages in a dialogue with us. We do not want negotiations with the private company. The government needs to show some responsibility towards us.”
Meanwhile, S.S. Perveez, head of marketing, GVK EMRI, the private agency running the 108 services, warned its staff of disciplinary action if the strike continued. He said that the 108 emergency services ran normally and claimed that 30 to 40 per cent of their staff were working on Sunday. However, the sangha refuted this claim and said that majority of the workers were on strike.
Close to 2,400 people manage 517 ambulances across the State.