In a shocking instance of private fly-by-night ambulance operators trying to make a killing amidst the shortage of actual ambulances and other frontline medical services, an ambulance driver charged an obscene Rs 7,000 to transport a suspected COVID-19 positive policeman from the Powai police station to a hospital barely six kilometres away. He also gave arrogant replies when confronted over the astronomical figure, asking the police personnel to take it or leave it.
The medical report of a 29-year-old cop, attached with the Powai police station, conducted at Jogeshwari’s Trauma Care Hospital came positive on April 23. The policeman had been experiencing severe cold and cough for three days. After the cop requested an ambulance to be admitted to a private hospital which was within the Powai police station’s jurisdiction, the hospital pointed to the absence of the service.
While making enquiries, a private ambulance driver quoted Rs 7,000 for a mere distance of 5 to 6 kms. “When he was challenged over the astronomical sum, he non chalantly said he didn’t care and even said ‘everyone is equal’ before the crisis when I pointed out that I was part of an essential frontline service who contracted the illness on duty,” said the policeman.
The cop’s trouble didn’t end there as after arranging the money, the private hospital in Powai refused admission saying his report said he was negative and thus as per government rules, he was taken to a BMC-run quarantine centre in Powai. “The report was replaced by the Trauma Care Centre and he was admitted to the private hospital in Powai. His condition is now stable,” said an officer from the Powai police station.
The cop’s brother is serving with the Indian Army while their parents are based in their native place, and have been deliberately not been intimated of their son’s hospitalization, to spare them the stress and tension. The incident has severely hit morale amongst police personnel, who have been deployed to enforce the lockdown and manning hotspots and containment zones.