Leading app-based cab hailing companies, ola and uber, will operate round-the-clock ‘medical emergency services’ for patients who are advised non-ambulatory, prolonged treatment in Bengaluru. In light of the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the cab aggregators have partnered with the karnataka health Department. The Department said that the aim of the service, launched on tuesday, is to ensure that other medical emergency services do not get ignored, given the continued focus on COVID-19.
These vehicles can be booked by calling dedicated numbers 9154153917, 9154153918 or by logging in to the apps. The first such service was flagged off by B Sriramulu, minister for health, in the presence of other Department officials. The minister said, “With the increasing number of cases related to COVID-19, 108 ambulance services are being utilised entirely to ferry COVID-19 patients to hospitals and quarantine centers. In order for other patients, who have medical emergencies and require medical procedures such as dialysis, chemotherapy, organ transplant, radiation therapy etc., not to be inconvenienced, the state government has tied up with ride-hailing apps, uber and ola, to provide 100 cabs each for the benefit of such patients.”
He added, “Services provided will include only shifting of patients from home to hospital and hospital to home and not for any other medical emergencies, including suspected and positive cases of COVID-19.” Prior to this service, police vehicles were being used for these emergency purposes. The health Department said drivers of these vehicles will be specially trained and well-versed with necessary protocols. The cars will have masks and sanitisers provided by the respective aggregators. All drivers and passengers of these vehicles will be made to wear these masks and it will be compulsory for the air-conditioning in each of these vehicles to be switched off. Moreover ola in a statement said, “To book an ‘Ola emergency’ cab, citizens can select the category ‘Enabled for Hospitals’ on their ola app, and enter the drop location from a list of available hospitals in the city. ola has enabled over 200 hospitals on its app to provide the service and ensure cabs are used only for essential medical travel. The service will be available across bengaluru and is slated to soon launch in other major cities.”