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Frontline warriors we take for granted

Ambulance drivers are risking it all while battling the deadly second wave


Nepalnews
2021 May 10, 16:15, Kathmandu
An ambulance driver sleeps in his vehicle, in Kathmandu. COVID-19 has added further duty hours for most of the drivers of ambulances throughout Nepal.

With the rise in COVID-19 cases, ambulance drivers are among the frontline workers battling the deadly second wave of the pandemic. Never before have they been more pressing times for the medical profession and more challenges for ambulance staff. Many never imagined that they would be facing such high risks when they chose this line of work.

Bishnu Thapa, an ambulance driver who has been in this profession for the last 15 years now.
Bishnu Thapa, an ambulance driver who has been in this profession for the last 15 years now.

“In these times there is very high risk, but ambulances can't back away from offering their service," mentions Bishnu Thapa, an ambulance driver who has been in this profession for the last 15 years now.

He mentions that as the country faces such turbulent times they are providing free service and going all out to answer calls of distress. However, he feels the government could be more supportive to these frontline warriors who are risking everything to serve those with medical emergencies. He says offering life and health insurance if they get infected by COVID would go a long way. “If we test positive too, we have to bear all the expenses by ourselves, and the government should look into this.”

He uses a PPE suit at all times and it is not easy to be in a PPE suit for long hours and do your duty. He feels cheated when some patients and their relatives hide the fact that they are COVID positive, which puts them at even more risks.

Thapa inform that the demands for ambulances are very high at this time but the supply of service is limited and that means working longer hours.


Manoj Khadka, an ambulance driver is 25 years old and has been in job for four years now.
Manoj Khadka, an ambulance driver is 25 years old and has been in job for four years now.

Manoj Khadka, another ambulance driver is 25 years old and has been in job for four years now. He confirms that the workload has increased and placed more pressure on ambulance drivers. On average, Khadka transports 20 patients a day; at least seven to eight patients are suffering from coronavirus.

He says safety is always first and there is no compromise. He has to wear a PPE as soon as he gets a call to pick up a patient. He also has to regularly undergo PCR tests and undergone more than 20 such test already. "I have to follow all the COVID protocols to keep myself safe from infections."

Durga Prasad Neupane, is an ambulance driver from Jhapa who came to Kathmandu with a patient suffering from heart disease. He was in a rush to move out as he had to pick up another patient. He has been an ambulance driver for more than two years now. “We know we are taking risks but how can we stop working when people need us most during this pandemic,” he says sadly.


Rajendra Nepali, is 25 years old and has been driving an ambulance for four years now.
Rajendra Nepali, is 25 years old and has been driving an ambulance for four years now.

Rajendra Nepali, is 25 years old and has been driving an ambulance for four years now. He works 12 hour shifts every day from 6 am to 6 pm. “His ambulance only carries COVID patients and he himself was infected. Though he recovered without any serious symptom, he says he too stayed in isolation during that period.

What is it that keeps these young men so faithful to their work? The pay is not great; the hours are long and the risk always present. It’s just their sense of duty that keeps them going and the sense of pride and satisfaction that they serve when people need it most.


rise in COVID-19 cases ambulance drivers the frontline workers deadly second wave a PPE suit PCR tests
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