Oxygen autorickshaws to the aid of COVID-19 patients

Kadamai Education and Social Welfare Trust’s autorickshaw oxygen ambulance at Tondiarpet in Chennai on May 9, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Jothi Ramalingam B.

On Sunday morning, a 43-year-old man’s oxygen level dropped to below 82 and he called a mobile phone number that he had seen on social media. In a matter of 30 minutes, a modified auto rickshaw fitted with an oxygen cylinder arrived at his doorstep in North Chennai and he was provided supply. In 45 minutes, his oxygen level increased to 95 and he was taken to the nearest government hospital.

The autorickshaw oxygen ambulance is being run by Kadamai Education and Social Welfare Trust, working in North Chennai for the last seven years in the fields of education, women empowerment and skill training, for ten days now.

“This 43-year-old man had money, but could not get oxygen. We have also come across cases where poor people suffer without oxygen and are unable to access any ambulance service. We take our autorickshaw there and give oxygen supply. After the levels increase, we admit them to the hospital,” said C. Vasantha Kumar, founder-secretary of the trust.

As of now, they have two auto rickshaws fitted with oxygen cylinders and many more normal autorickshaws which ferry people free of cost for COVID-19 tests and to the hospital. “We also find it hard to get the oxygen supply. We have the cylinders and Mr. Kumaresan, who runs Mahalakshmi Agencies in Chintadripet, helps us get the supply/refill,” he added.

The drivers of the autorickshaw oxygen ambulance wear a PPE kit and handle patients with care.

The drivers of the autorickshaw oxygen ambulance wear a PPE kit and handle patients with care.   | Photo Credit: Jothi Ramalingam B.

The drivers wear a PPE kit and handle patients with care. “Per day, we get around 200 calls. We started it for residents in North Chennai, but we got calls from areas like Tambaram too. We try our best to attend to every call, but it is hard,” Mr. Kumar said.

Initially, he, along with trust’s treasurer N. Sathyaraj who runs a commercial vehicles firm, used to drive the rickshaws and help the patient. “Now we have three more drivers — Mohan, Kamal and Manikandan — who attend to the patients,” Mr. Sathyaraj said.

They are wary when they return home after attending to the patients. “We take extreme precautions to ensure our families are not infected because of us. We were inspired by seeing the doctors, medical staff and Greater Chennai Corporation volunteers who help the COVID-19 patients without any fear,” he added.

Mr. Sathyaraj said ensuring there was enough supply of oxygen would put a patient’s mind at ease. “Then they become more confident. This is what we have seen,” he explained.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 11:07:45 AM |

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