ALAPPUZHA: 40-year-old Sandeev Raj of Olavaipu in Thaikkattussery panchayat of Cherthala taluk in Alappuzha is not a frontline Covid warrior, but he has been a saviour of many Covid positive people of his place and nearby areas. He has been transporting Covid patients to hospitals and back without any hesitation in his ‘autorickshaw ambulance’ for the past six months. When ambulance services are not available in remote areas like Olivaipu, autorickshaw drivers like Sandeev are a huge help to people.
According to Sandeev, the absence of an ambulance is a major problem for transporting Covid positive persons. “If anybody in the locality develops symptoms of Covid and wants to reach a hospital for testing, the majority of vehicle owners hesitate to carry the person fearing they would get infected. I do not fear the pandemic and I lend a helping hand.
I have separated the driver’s cabin of my autorickshaw with a plastic sheet. I use sanitisers and other preventive methods. The majority of the people of our locality are poor fishermen or farmers. They cannot call an ambulance each time they want to go to a hospital because it is expensive. If they go in an autorickshaw, it will cost them less than Rs 100. Hence, I started this service, not for my livelihood, but to save the lives of my people,” Sandeev said.
“My friends Faizal, Dhanesh Kumar, Sathar, Sarin P Raj and others support my initiative.” He is also a welder but started plying the autorickshaw two years ago. “Autorickshaw drivers saved me from an accident and it encouraged me to start the service,” Sandeev said.
He is also ready to lend other types of help to the families of Covid-infected people including delivering food items at the doorstep. Sandeev’s wife Sharanya is a housewife and the couple has two children, Ananya and Abhinandh.