Monsoon fury wreaked havoc in ‘God’s own country’ and has hit Kerala badly, following which water ambulances, the first of its kind in the country, have been launched. The water ambulances are expected to rush to locations that are badly hit and to help people in need of immediate assistance. The monsoon this year is known to have caused an estimated loss of over Rs.314 crore in coastal areas alone, where houses and crops have been irreparably damaged.
Coming into this troubled spotlight are numerous little islands dotting the areas between Alapuzha and Ernakulam and other areas across the state. In and around these islands, the residents are mostly helpless and stranded as they are cut off in terms of transportation due to limited road connectivity. Amidst such gloom, Kerala’s new water ambulances provide a ray of hope.
These have been put into service in the flood-hit regions of Alapuzha, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts. In Alapuzha, for instance, water ambulance had already been launched in April this year and it was to be launched in the other districts at the time of Onam in August. Given the precarious scenario, the water ambulances have already been put into service in the flood hit districts.
So, how do water ambulances function at a time like this and how safe is to use them?
According to various media reports, the water ambulances are managed by a professional crew that have expertise in deep swimming, rescue operations as well as underwater search. These ambulances can travel easily into remote areas to rescue people and can accommodate around 15 to 17 people. They are equipped with modern facilities, function with a speed of 12 knots instead of the usual boat speed of 7 knots. Further, these ambulances can function around the clock. It is expected that people will soon be given a dedicated phone number so that the crew can rush to those locations based on phone alerts.
Kuttanad, which has reportedly been worst hit, has also found some relief with the launch of such water ambulances. Known as the rice bowl of Kerala, the picturesque region is now flooded with water on all sides, almost dangerously so. For the people of Kuttanad, the rains have washed away their life, their sorrows remain unabated as an entire year’s hard work while toiling ceaselessly in lush green paddy fields have gone to waste.
People in Kuttanad have witnessed their homes being swept away by the monsoon, they are forced to stay like homeless people in temporary camps and the future looks bleak. The harsh reality is such that the local mortuary has not been able to dispose off the dead bodies that have been kept there and is now turning over a week old!