Shillong, Apr 25: Meghalaya recently received 25 ambulances funded by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma’s Relief fund, which received contributions from individuals, NGOs, private organisations and more. These 25 ambulances were brought by road from GVK EMRI’s Uttar Pradesh branch.
But inter-state travel during the national lockdown, placed due to the spread of COVID-19, is not an easy affair.
A 32 member team from Lucknow were tasked with delivering the ambulances, by road, all the way to Meghalaya. The journey meant driving around 1500 kms and crossing over 5 states.
GVK EMRI Meghalaya Branch Head, Deepankar Choudhury informed that they have 48 ambulances that are currently running, which cater to 43 locations in the state. 5 ambulances are kept for backup.
However, out of this entire fleet, Choudhury revealed that 31 ambulances require immediate replacement. “It has been pending for some time now. These have run their life. Some running beyond ten years,” he said, adding that pre-lockdown, it was manageable as they could be repaired in a timely manner.
With the lockdown, they now have to source for spares and parts directly from Guwahati. “The ambulances break down frequently, on an average we have 10-12 ambulances going down,” he revealed.
“We had to source for spares and all the dealers are Guwahati based. We don’t even have a dealer of force motors. For the spares, we had to take measures. Through our Guwahati operation, we got help to get these dealerships open and we procured the spares amounting to 2 lakhs,” Choudhury informed.
He added that service vans from their Guwahati branch would drop the spare parts to Jorabat. The Meghalaya team would then pick them up from the area. “So we didn’t violate interstate travel but managed to get it in and we have a service van of our own in Meghalaya and we have 1 tech and engineer touring to repair ambulances,” he said.
Therefore, the 25 ambulances that have arrived in Meghalaya will provide GVK EMRI much-needed assistance in their fight against COVID-19.
Choudhury informed that these ambulances were driven straight from Lucknow, U.P by the 32 member team. “With the lockdown in place, they had no place to even have their food. They cooked on the road and ate on the roadside. They are some corona warriors that we are proud of,” he said.
The ambulances safely arrived in Byrnihat on April 21st. Drivers from Meghalaya branch escorted by police brought them home. “With the support of government we got MTC buses and Police Escort to send back the 32 member UP team,” he added.
He said that after they replace 25 old ambulances with the new ones, they will still be left with 10 which can still be used after short repairs.
“To us, it makes sense to replace all our old ambulances and get everything up and have more efficiency in responding to cases and slowly over a period of time we can see how we can add new location too,” Choudhury said.
But he added that the next challenge they would face for every new location would be to to factor in paramedics and pilots and train them.
Another team of Corona Warriors – Choudhury informed – are on their way to Nagaland to transport 10 ambulances to the state, ‘‘where we don’t even have an operation,” he said.