Mumbai: Woman uses own bus as COVID-19 ambulance

Updated: 23 September, 2020 08:28 IST | Samiullah Khan | Mumbai

"Driving is my passion and driving an ambulance and serving patients is my dream. The COVID epidemic has strangely fulfilled both," she added

Neelam Singh, with her COVID bus, has been ferrying schoolchildren for 18 years
Neelam Singh, with her COVID bus, has been ferrying schoolchildren for 18 years

A 55-year-old woman school bus driver has been using her new bus to ferry COVID-19 patients to hospitals and quarantine centres for the past four months. A resident of Andheri, Neelam Singh stays with her husband and 95-year-old mother. Her daughter is married and lives in the same building while her son is in the US. Singh's husband has an auto workshop but as it was not doing well, she decided to start working herself. About 18 years ago, she began ferrying school kids in her own bus.

Speaking to mid-day, Singh said that in February she had booked a new bus on loan. She got the bus in May and was paying R30,000 EMI every month. Due to the shortage of ambulance drivers, Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal had spoken to the chairman of the School Bus Association requesting help. "Some school buses from every ward were selected to be used as ambulances, and my bus too, was picked to ferry moderate COVID patients from K east ward," Singh said. She hired a driver but when he left due to fear of COVID-19, she decided to drive herself.

"I have ferried more than 2,000 patients in the past four months. Initially, my family protested and my children didn't want me driving, but I continued fearlessly," Singh said. She pointed out that she takes particular care of hygiene and washes her clothes in hot water immediately on going home.

"I explain to patients on my bus that this is just a disease, it is not to be feared and they will definitely go home. The patients who go home after recovering often call me, which makes me very happy," she said.

"Driving is my passion and driving an ambulance and serving patients is my dream. The COVID epidemic has strangely fulfilled both," she added.

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First Published: 23 September, 2020 06:27 IST

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