Navgathi launched the first ambulance boat for Maharashtra health department on Thursday 28th December 2015 near Sardar Sarovar Dam. This steel ambulance cum rescue boat is the first among the series of three ambulance boat Navgathi is constructing in Kevadiya colony of Gujarat.
The service aims to transport patients from remote areas to health institutions, especially in the critical and emergency cases, quickly and safely on three boats. Anil Patil, District Medical Office elaborates, “Maharashtra health department and NRHM introduced the ambulance boats to ensure that medical care is available for all villagers who are completely isolated from the outside world to the lack of road facilities.”
The 50 foot twin-screw vessel is made of marine grade steel with design speed of 15 knots and can be used for rescue operations as well. The boat has the accommodation facilities for 5 persons and is air-conditioned for passenger comfort. The water ambulance has all the basic and necessary equipment and medical devices for first aid.
Navgathi designed the boat under MMB rules. The project manager from Navgathi Mr. Syam Krishnan says that the boat construction in the remote area was very challenging. He adds, “The boat weighs about 23 tons. The crane capacity available at the dam reservoir was 18 tons which made the launching using the cranes impossible. We visited many places in the banks of Narmada searching for a suitable launching site. Narmada River being flowing between Vindhya and Satpura range has its banks steep and hilly which made it difficult for trailers or heavy carriers to reach near the water. Also there was no proper space for the crane and trailer to stay near water. All the crane and trailer operators who visited the site and the route denied our proposal.”
It was decided to widen this path with the permissions from concerned authorities. The marshy land in the launching area was stiffened and the shore was dredged to increase the depth of water. The whole process of widening road and opening a mouth to the water took seven days. A 400 hp Volvo puller and the 8 axle trailer was used for the transportation of the boats to the dam site due to the hair pin curves and steep slopes.
For lifting, hooks were welded on the deck in aft and fore. They were positioned to avoid any damages to superstructure. After placing the boat on trailer, the boat was secured by lashing and wooden sleepers.
Transporting the boats to launching site in traffic was another challenge. Due to the narrow road with steeps and hard curves the trailer moved very slowly and it took two days to reach the launching site, hardly 10 km away. The whole process was planned along with Gujarat Electricity Board, Sardar Sarovar Nigam Ltd, Tourism department, Forest department, Public relations department of Gujarat, Zilla parishad and Health Department of Maharashtra. Engineers from Electricity Board were present with the team during the transportation, to remove or shut-off the overhead electric lines and we are thankful to all of them for their support.
A deep co-ordination was needed between the two cranes of 50 tons capacity each to transfer the boat from the trailer to water. Once the boat was safe and floating in water and all systems confirmed in order, the whole team heaved a sigh of relief. The other two boats are expected to be launched in February.