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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Tamil Nadu: Cafe owner raises funds for six ‘auto ambulances’ to serve Nilgiris remote villages

Radhika Shastri raised funds for the ambulances by appealing to the patrons of her cafe, and through social media campaigns.

Written by Nithya Pandian | Coimbatore |
July 4, 2021 10:16:53 pm
AmbuRx ambulanceRadhika Shastri raised funds for the ambulances by appealing to the patrons of her cafe, and through social media campaigns | Photo by special arrangement

A cafe owner in Coonoor has crowd-funded six ‘autorickshaw ambulances’, customised for the hilly terrain and narrow roads of Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris.

Tamil Nadu Forest Minister K Ramachandran along with Collector J Innocent Divya inaugurated the ‘AmbuRx’ services on Saturday.

autorickshaw ambulance Tamil Nadu Forest Minister K Ramachandran along with Collector J Innocent Divya inaugurated the ‘AmbuRx’ services on Saturday | Photo by special arrangement

The ambulances have stretchers for patients, seats for the attenders, oxygen cylinders, fire extinguishers and fans. The driver cabinet is separated from the patient’s segment.

The cafe owner Radhika Shastri, a resident of Coonoor, told indianexpress.com, “I came across these electric auto ambulances, a project of Vivek Tankha of Jabalpur, on social media, and thought the Nilgiris also should have such facilities. The terrain is quite difficult here and these autos would enhance mobility in the narrow hilly roads. I contacted the manufacturers in Jabalpur and asked customisation of the ambulances for the Nilgiris’ unique topography”.

Then came the task of raising money for the ambulances. Shastri appealed to the patrons of her cafe, Café Diem, and also conducted social media campaigns.

The entire process of modifying the ambulances and their delivery took only 30 days. Six 470-CC Bajaj Maximas were remodeled for the purpose, with each ambulance costing Rs 3.5 lakh. Shastri spent around Rs 21 lakh to get the ambulances to Nilgiris.

autorickshaw ambulances Six 470-CC Bajaj Maximas were remodelled for the purpose, with each ambulance costing Rs 3.5 lakh | Photo by special arrangement

Once their registration process is complete, the ambulances will be deployed in public and private hospitals and NGOs in Ketti, Coonoor, and Kotagiri areas to help patients residing in remote villages.

“The autos arrived three days ago. They will be donated to the Ketti government hospital, Pushpa hospital (Coonoor), Hotel federation, Kotagiri Medical Fellowship hospital, Kinder Trust (Wellington), and 3-star ambulance services. I think AmbuRx can be very effective and deliver great services to non-critical patients,” Shastri said.

Dr. Harija, Block Medical Officer in Coonoor, agreed that the AmbuRx can serve hilly areas well.

“We have 108 ambulance services in all Primary Healthcare Centres. But this AmbuRx is focused on people living in tribal hamlets and remote areas, where roads are narrow and patchy. It will improve mobility in inaccessible areas,” Dr. Harija said.

This is not the first time Shastri has helped improve medical infrastructure in the region. Last month, along with other welfare associations, she helped raise funds to build a 500-lpm oxygen generator unit in Lawly Government Hospital in Coonoor.

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