‘Call Drivers’ took 27 patients to hospitals on Monday

At 7 a.m. on Monday, Mujeeb Rahman, leader of the ‘Call Drivers’ initiative, got the first call on his phone. The request was to take a paralysed child to the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital. The family members could not hire a taxi as it was a hartal day. The ‘Call Drivers’ team, in their yellow uniform, reached the caller’s residence at East Hill without delay and took the patient to the hospital, free of cost

For the past four years, the ‘Call Drivers’ community in the city has been serving poor patients during hartal days. The group, which has 87 drivers, sets apart 25 per cent of their total revenue to offer this free service to stranded patients.

On Monday, four selected youths from the community were responsible to steer the initiative. From dawn to dusk, Mr. Rahman, Mohammed Rafeeque, K.S. Shefeeque and P.P. Ashraf camped near their small office on Bank Road with two vehicles and attended the calls. By evening, they had helped 27 patients from different parts of the city.

“During hartal days, we get an average 30 calls to our helpline number 88932 22777. On some occasions, we had attended more than 40 calls,” said Mr. Rahman. He said the team needed at least Rs.4,000 to meet the fuel expenses, which they mobilised from their collective profit as taxi drivers.

Mr. Rafeeque and Mr. Shefeeque said there were several instances when the patients and their relatives offered them big sums for their service. They recalled an incident in which a boy who had fallen into a well was saved by their timely service. “The family was ready to give us anything, but, we discouraged it as such practices would spoil the spirit of our initiative,” they said.

To better their service, the team had plans to buy a new ambulance. But no banking firms agreed to finance the initiative, they said.

“When we approached the banks, we were told that there was no provision to sanction loans for purchasing ambulances,” said Mr. Rahman. The team had to return a new ambulance purchased by them by paying an initial sum as they could not secure a loan.

“It was quite a disheartening incident as we had inaugurated the service at a special function,” said Mr. Rahman.

The group is planning to approach the district administration and State Ministers with a request to sanction a new ambulance for the service.

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