Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami Monday flagged off 118 new ambulances to strengthen the state’s emergency services amid the coronavirus pandemic. Driving one of the ambulances in the fleet was 30-year-old Veeralakshmi, who also became the first woman ambulance pilot in the state.
Veeralakshmi got the job after serving as a call taxi driver for three years in Chennai. Hailing from Bodinayakanur in Theni, Veeralakshmi had completed her diploma in automobile engineering. After marriage, she moved to Chennai with her husband who had been serving as a taxi-driver for more than 10 years.
Some years later, Veeralakshmi decided to help her husband due to financial crunch and started work as a taxi driver. When she learned that the state was recruiting people for the 108 ambulances, she applied for it.
“After knowing that I have a heavy driving license and three-year on the road experience, they (GVK-EMRI Agency which holds the contract for 108 ambulances in Tamil Nadu) called for the interview. They were a bit hesitant to appoint a woman as an ambulance pilot because it has never happened before. But after consulting with their head office, they said they will appoint me after the test drive. I performed well in all the tests, they briefed me about the responsibilities of being an ambulance pilot, how difficult the job would be, I told them I am interested in taking up this as a profession,” Veeralakshmi told indianexpress.com
A mother of two, Veeralakshmi said after watching the entire country battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, she wanted to help the people. This prompted her to take up the job.
“I had no fear. I was interested in taking up this job. I was serving as a call taxi driver for three years. I wanted to step out and help the people in this difficult period. I started training for the ambulance pilot position since the beginning of June. With the support of seniors and others, I completed my training and now I am completely focused on the job.
Veeralakshmi said while her family was a bit hesitant about her profession initially, they understood that this was what she wanted to do. “I miss my children, but that’s what every woman goes through in our country. I strive to save as many lives as possible,” she said.
Of the newly launched 118 ambulances, 90 would be added to the existing 108 fleet. Ten of these ambulances would be used for government blood banks for transporting blood collected in camps and 18 ambulances, donated by a media group, would be used for anti-COVID tasks.
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