Marooned in an isolated island in Alappuzha amid the worst flood in central Kerala, 62-year-old Kunhirama Kaimal got a kiss of life after a marine ambulance stabilized him following a cardiac arrest on Sunday and rushed him to the nearest road head from where he was taken to Alappuzha medical college hospital.
“No roads or vehicles were in sight. When we were moving to a bridge to save our lives, my father developed severe chest pain. Luckily a local leader had the number of water ambulance and he summoned it,” his daughter Lakshmi Kaimal said.
In an exercise which is the first of its kind in the country, five such ambulances have been pressed into service in flood-hit Alappuzha, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts to help those in need of medical treatment.
The first water ambulance was launched in Alappuzha in April and it was stationed in Panavally. Four other ambulances were to be inaugurated by Onam in August but were pressed into service on Monday as the flood continued to wreak havoc. The four ambulances are stationed at Muhamma, Vaikkam, Ernakulam and Alappzuha
“Water ambulances carry all modern facilities. It can house at least 17 people and cruise at a speed of 12 knots compared to the normal boat speed of 6 knots. The crew have also been trained in underwater search, deep swimming and rescue operation,” said State Water Transport Department director Shaji V Nair.
“Water ambulance services will be available round the clock. It can go to remote areas easily and rescue people. In last two days they have done a stupendous work,” said Nair. “This is the first time such ambulances have been pressed into service in the country. We really lack small water-borne vehicles to carry out an emergency rescue mission. We will use their services to the maximum.”