Search This Blog

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Appreciating AmbuRx Radhika Shastry - Mann ki Baat !!

The Nilgiris (Blue Montains)  district is one of the 38 districts of Tamil Nadu.   Nilgiri Hills are part of a larger mountain chain known as the Western Ghats. Their highest point is the mountain of Doddabetta, height 2,637 m. The district is contained mainly within the Nilgiri Mountains range.

Incessant rains in the Nilgiris district for more than ten days resulted in landslides at many places. The dams in the Western Tamil Nadu are filling to the brim, reported a Tamil daily on Saturday. The Nilgiris district has been receiving heavy to very heavy rains with thunderstorms for the last two days. The catchment areas like Avilanji, Upper Bhavani, and Ooty suburban areas are receiving incessant rains. Avilanji recorded 16 centimeters of rainfall while Naduvattam recorded 14 centimeters of rainfall on Friday. Farmlands at Kappathorai, Muthorai Palada, and Nanjanad areas are flooded destroying more than 50 acres of crops.

Moving away, the sirens of 108 Ambulance are heard lesser these days – a movie criticized stating  ‘pizza arrive faster than ambulance’ but that was abject lie,  sensationalism in a movie, nothing beyond.  108 is an excellent service in the State, comes much faster and the people of Tamil Nadu, especially Chennai too are to be appreciated, for in general, everyone moves out and makes way for the ambulance when they hear the siren !!  

Hyderabad Traffic Police have faced criticism following allegations that two ambulances were stopped to give passage to a VIP convoy. In the visuals of the incident that have gone viral, long queues of vehicles are seen waiting for the go-ahead at Masab Tank area in Hyderabad. Among them are the ambulances and their sirens can be heard in the videos.  The ambulances were reportedly going from Mahaveer Hospital to Virinchi Hospital when the traffic movement was allegedly stopped to let the VIP convoy pass. Local residents said traffic movement was stopped to give passage to the convoy of Telangana Home Minister Mahmood Ali.

People, especially those from the tribal areas of Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu have always faced difficulty reaching hospitals during emergencies. The hilly terrain and narrow roads restrict the movement of vehicles. To overcome these hurdles, a cafe owner in Coonoor purchased six-autorickshaws through crowd-funding and remodelled them into auto ambulances.

A Bengaluru resident for nearly 30 years and a senior professional in a timeshare holiday company, Radhika Shastry decided to retire to a quiet hillside one day. Years of working in Resort Condominium International had given her enough opportunities to see idyllic locales while location hunting for new resorts for her company. She homed on the Nilgiris. In 2017 - Café Diem started in Coonoor in January this year and is a cute, cosy spot with a to-die-for-view of the Nilgiris, reported Rediff at that time.  now that lady icon is in news especially with the Prime Minister making a mention of her in Mann ki baat. 

The woman entrepreneur, a cafe owner in Coonoor has crowd-funded six ‘autorickshaw ambulances’, customised for the hilly terrain and narrow roads of Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris.  "AmbuRx has been customised in Jabalpur and it will run free of cost in Nilgiris. These will be very convenient for patients' movement, especially in the narrow hill roads. It will be very useful for non-critical patients as well as Covid patients too," it is reported.  Tamil Nadu Forest Minister K Ramachandran along with Collector J Innocent Divya inaugurated the ‘AmbuRx’ services on Saturday.

The auto ambulances have a separate driver's cabin and are fitted with a patient stretcher, attendant seating, an oxygen cylinder, drip hooks, a fire extinguisher, a first aid box, and a fan. Each of the remodelled vehicles costs Rs 3.5 lakh. In total, Shastri and her supporters, including patrons of her cafe and those who contributed to the social media campaign, spent a total amount of Rs 21 lakh to get the ambulances to the hill station. AmbuRx will be donated to the Ketti government hospital, Pushpa hospital (Coonoor), Kotagiri Medical Fellowship hospital, Hotel Federation Kinder Trust (Wellington), and 3-star ambulance services.

The cafe owner Radhika Shastri, a resident of Coonoor, told, “I came across these electric auto ambulances, a project of Vivek Tankha of Jabalpur, on social media, and thought the Nilgiris also should have such facilities. The terrain is quite difficult here and these autos would enhance mobility in the narrow hilly roads. I contacted the manufacturers in Jabalpur and asked customisation of the ambulances for the Nilgiris’ unique topography”. Then came the task of raising money for the ambulances. Shastri appealed to the patrons of her cafe, Café Diem, and also conducted social media campaigns.

The entire process of modifying the ambulances and their delivery took only 30 days. Six 470-CC Bajaj Maximas were remodeled for the purpose, with each ambulance costing Rs 3.5 lakh. Shastri spent around Rs 21 lakh to get the ambulances to Nilgiris. Once their registration process is complete, the ambulances will be deployed in public and private hospitals and NGOs in Ketti, Coonoor, and Kotagiri areas to help patients residing in remote villages.  I think AmbuRx can be very effective and deliver great services to non-critical patients,” Shastri said. Dr. Harija, Block Medical Officer in Coonoor, agreed that the AmbuRx can serve hilly areas well. “We have 108 ambulance services in all Primary Healthcare Centres. But this AmbuRx is focused on people living in tribal hamlets and remote areas, where roads are narrow and patchy. It will improve mobility in inaccessible areas,” Dr. Harija said. 

This is not the first time Shastri has helped improve medical infrastructure in the region. Last month, along with other welfare associations, she helped raise funds to build a 500-lpm oxygen generator unit in Lawly Government Hospital in Coonoor.

The auto ambulance service initiative of Smt. Radhika Shastry of Nilgiri district found a mention in Prime Minister’s monthly radio broadcast, “Mann Ki Baat” this Saturday. During the programme, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said, “Radhika Shastry has started the AmbuRx (Amburex) Project. The purpose of this project is to provide easy transport for the treatment of patients in hilly areas. Radhika runs a cafe in Coonoor. She raised funds for AmbuRx from her cafe colleagues. Today six AmbuRx are serving in the Nilgiri hills and are coming to the aid of patients in remote parts during the time of emergency.  Following the acknowledgement of the Prime Minister, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Shri L Murugan spoke to Smt. Radhika Shastry over the phone and congratulated her. Later, in a tweet, Shri Murugan said this compassionate gesture by her in Nilgiris will motivate others and also improve health facilities in the region.

Let us appreciate good things – hats off to Radhika Shastry.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th July 2021. 

1 comment:

  1. Very nice!Let us appreciate good things – hats off to Radhika Shastry!