The land of backwaters, Kerala has launched rescue-cum-ambulance boat service in the district of Alappuzha to provide basic and emergency medical facilities for the people in the region who live on the backwater islands that have limited road connectivity and almost zero medical services.
Undertaken by the State water transport department (SWTD), the first boat was inaugurated by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan at Panavally near Cherthala on Monday.
“The state has 1,700-km-long waterways. To exploit the trade potential, a special purpose vehicle was formed for their development. With the help of the Centre, the waterways will be developed, and it will pave the way for the industrial development of central Kerala,” Vijayan said at the launch, reports The New Indian Express.
Built at the cost of ₹50 lakh, the boat is on par with a modern ambulance with all kinds of paraphernalia required for rescue missions as well as basic medical care and can accommodate 20 passengers along with the crewmembers.
Compared to the normal boat speed of six knots, these vessels will function at the high speed of 12 knots, while providing medical service round the clock. The ambulance service will soon have a dedicated phone number, which will help the crew to rush to the locations upon getting alerts.
Currently, the remaining four boats are being constructed at Aroor boatyard and are expected to hit the waters by the end of next week. Three of these ambulances would be deployed in Alappuzha, Panavally and Muhamma, while the remaining two will ply from Ernakulam and Kollam.
Besides handling emergency medical situations and launch rescue missions, the water ambulance crew has been trained in rescue swimming, deep-water search and rescue, emergency oxygen administration and first aid.
“People living on islands with no road connectivity, lack a boat with rescue and medical equipment. The water ambulance will also help people with an emergency medical condition to be shifted to a hospital without delay,” said SWTD director, Shaji V Nair to The Times of India.
It is reported that the water ambulance service will soon be expanded to other waterway bound regions in the state.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)