Whether it is the government or doctors, the one thing that they are all requesting us to continue doing is stay home and stay safe. While a majority of us are doing just that, there are people like 34-year-old Manikandan, better known as ‘Ambulance Mani’ who are working hard to ensure that those in need reach the hospital in time.
Since the lockdown was announced, Mani, a resident of Ramanathapuram, Puducherry, has ferried more than 18 patients to nearby hospitals, including 6 pregnant women, who were due for delivery.
It was the tragic loss of his brother in 2007 that pushed Mani to start a free ambulance service.
“My brother met with an accident, but no one came to his rescue. Instead of calling for help or an ambulance, everyone just stood around and watched him die. I did not want anyone else to go through what my brother did, or for that matter what I went through after his death,” he mentions, with a hint of pain in his voice.
He worked hard and had saved up enough money to begin the free ambulance service by March 2016.
Interestingly, Mani, by day is a car salesman, and by night he dons the hat of an ambulance driver.
“Since I need to continue my day job, I have appointed another driver who manages the service during the day, and I take over once I am through with my day job,” he explains.
In approximately 50 months of operations, Mani has tended to more than 650 patients. “Even if you were to call the 108 ambulance helpline, it will be redirected to me. This service is available 24/7.”
He shares that on 14 April he got a call a little after midnight from a pregnant woman who needed to reach the hospital immediately. He took the lady to JIPMER, where at 3.30 AM, she delivered a girl child. “This is why I do, what I do,” he says.
Mani also ensures that he brings back patients to their homes after the delivery or recovery.
Since the lockdown, Mani tells me that he has been sleeping in the ambulance on most nights because he fears that he might spread the virus to those at home.
“I do not want to be the cause of any tension for my relatives or family back home because I am constantly in and out of hospitals. I have some clothes in the ambulance, and I manage to take a bath and get ready nearby. For food I am grateful that the local police station takes care of it,” he says.
Mani runs this service entirely by himself without taking any donation or assistance from anyone. He says, “The reason I work hard during the day is to be able to fund this service. Now more than ever, my service is needed.”
If you wish to reach out to Mani, you can do so on +91 81482 63646.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)