The distance from Pariyaram in Kannur district to Thiruvananthapuram is 540 kilometres and takes nearly ten hours without major traffic. If there are traffic snarls on the way, the travelling time extends to 14 hours. On Wednesday night, an ambulance, carrying a one-month-old child who needed an emergency heart surgery, took just six hours and forty minutes to make the long trip, thanks to police officials, civil society activists and members of the public who cleared the way.
Fathima Laiba, the one-month-old baby admitted to the Pariyaram Medical College in Kannur, needed an immediate heart surgery. On Wednesday night, her family got an appointment for the operation at the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, 500 km away in Thiruvananthapuram.
“They called an external ambulance and we immediately discharged her,” confirmed the PRO at the Pariyaram hospital.
To undertake the urgent trip, Fathima’s family took the aid of Child Protect Team Kerala (CPTK), an organisation that gives assistance to families in matters of children. An ambulance from Kasaragode was called with Thamim as the driver who would make the trip.
“We have coordinators in all districts. We basically operate through WhatsApp groups. We started a group and added the coordinators. We also added phone numbers of police officials who would ensure security and traffic clearance for the ambulance. A GPS was connected to the ambulance and we would give out directions of the location of the ambulance through WhatsApp,” said Shibu Ravuthar, the Kollam district president of CPTK who claimed to have done the networking for the episode.
He said the group sent out messages in its vast social media network in advance as the ambulance reached a location. “We started out at 8:23 pm from Pariyaram and reached the hospital in Trivandrum at 3:23 am the next day in exactly seven hours. Barring a brief snarl in Alappuzha, there were no major problems,” he said.
“The ambulance had to stop for fuel and food in Kozhikode for about 20 minutes. The running time was 6.40 hours,” he said.
An official at the Kannur traffic police station confirmed the episode and said two Innova cars of the highway team joined the ambulance as it cruised through the district. While one car joined the ambulance from Pariyaram to Kannur, the other went as part of the convoy from Kannur to the district limit in Mahe.
Ravuthar said the group wants to especially thank driver Thamim, who drove exceptionally under great pressure. “All we did was try to save a child’s life. Daivathinte adrishya shakti undaya pole thonni (It felt as if there was an invisible force of God),” he added.
The child is said to be in critical condition at the hospital in Trivandrum. “We did what we could. The rest is in God’s hands,” Ravuthar told the Indian Express.