Kerala's Sunitha R is one of the 18 drivers selected for the 24-hour auto-rickshaw ambulance service. The state government started the service in Kochi, where the second wave of COVID-19 affected the worst.
The service started in May, in collaboration with the District Autorickshaw Drivers Co-operative Society, the Kochi Municipal Corporation, and Deutsch Gesellschaft (German Development Agency).
The 42-year-old woman is the only female among the selected COVID warriors. She has been helping patients travel to and from hospitals while ensuring to follow necessary precautions, The New Indian Express reported.
Amid the surge in COVID cases, regular ambulance services are overwhelmed, and timely medical treatment has been delayed several times. Sunitha's services come to aid of Kochi citizens, making sure they receive timely medical attention.
"There are a lot of people risking their lives by opting to work during the pandemic. I also decided to volunteer as an auto-rickshaw ambulance driver, and I'm happy to join the battle against Covid," the media quoted her as saying.
She has been driving the rickshaw since 2005, after receiving her driver's license, and bought her own vehicle in 2012.
Kochi Mayor M Anil Kumar has also recognised her services. "This is a brave decision by Sunitha. She also says that she has never faced any issue as a woman, and all drivers have treated her equally," he lauded.
About 18 of such ambulance autorickshaws were launched in the first phase and the state government intends to extend the service at ward level across Kerala.
The three-wheelers are equipped with facilities like a portable oxygen cabin, thermometer, oximeter, and medical machines that can be used while transporting the patient from their residence to the hospital.
The 18 drivers underwent training sessions on safety measures to be taken while ferrying the patient and instructions on carrying the essentials.