Behind the wheel of an ambulance: Steering hope amid despair

Working on the frontline with the COVID-infected and their family members, ambulance drivers have had to stay away from their families, for fear of putting them at risk. | Image - Prathap Ravishankar

Every morning, Danush R, an ambulance driver in Bengaluru city, waits for a call from the health department. His job is to pick up COVID-19 positive patients from their homes or designated hospitals and drop them back after treatment. He is usually assigned a patient who has tested positive and so far, in the last two months, he’s transported about 10 COVID positive patients.

Hailing from a small village Koppa in Mandya district, the 23-year-old came to Bengaluru hoping to finish high school, but unable to do so, he took up driving and has been driving ambulances for the past three years. And now he is on COVID-19 transportation duty.

For him and fellow ambulance drivers, this is the first time they are witnessing such a crisis where they have to protect themselves fully and be ready anytime.

Despite the risks that come with the job, Danush is content as he says the government took his consent before assigning him to transport COVID-19 patients. "Many rejected (the offer) as they feared they would contract the virus. But I considered it after the government assured us of all the safety kits including the protective gear," Danush says, though he feels suffocated wearing the overalls all through.

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