Rickshaw ‘ambulance’ offers free oxygen to Covid patients | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 05, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:14 AM, May 05, 2021

Rickshaw ‘ambulance’ offers free oxygen to Covid patients

When Indian auto-rickshaw driver Mohammad Javed Khan saw people carrying their coronavirus-stricken parents to hospitals on their backs as they were too poor to afford an ambulance, he knew he had to help. 

Khan, a 34-year-old driver in the central Indian city of Bhopal, sold his wife's jewellery and converted his three-wheeled vehicle into a small ambulance, fitting it out with an oxygen cylinder, an oximeter to measure oxygen levels in the blood, and other medical supplies.

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As India grapples with a harrowing Covid-19 crisis that has seen infections skyrocket and the healthcare system stretched to breaking point, individuals like Khan have stepped forward to try and help their local communities.

"A critically ill patient cannot be brought to the hospital without oxygen support. So, I thought, why not turn my three-wheeler into an ambulance. It's not as spacious as an ambulance, but it can surely save lives," Khan told AFP.

"I see young people struggling without oxygen. Even when they call ambulances, the ambulances are charging 5,000-10,000 rupees ($70-140). How will a poor person be able to afford it?"

A donor provided him with a cylinder and another with the oximeter.  A doctor taught Khan how to use the cylinder and oximeter to safely supply the lifesaving gas to patients as he drove them to a hospital.

Khan briefly ran into trouble with the authorities when police charged him for operating his auto-rickshaw without an emergency permit during ockdown, India Today reported. But after an outcry on social media, police withdrew the charges and issued him with a special pass, it added.  

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