Life of an Ambulance Driver in Srinagar During the Pandemic
Jameel Ahmad is a 40 year old ambulance driver in Srinagar whose work is cut out for him on any given day. He speaks to Basit Zargar about his days during the pandemic.
I have been carrying the dead bodies of every Covid-19 patient who died in district Srinagar right from the onset of the pandemic.
Whether the patients have died at SKIMS Soura, Chest and Disease Hospital or somewhere else in Srinagar, I have been carrying the deceased in an ambulance and performing their last rites.
It's not only the Muslims or Kashmiris that i have carried through but some non locals including CRPF personnel as well. We are living through a crisis like situation and it's obligatory to lend your services, I have been doing so persistently.
When i am done with my duties I take off my PPE kit in the ambulance, wash my hands properly and then join my family.
Initially they were not happy and told me not to do this but since this is my profession i didn't listen to anyone and continued with my job.
As time progressed my family understood the situation and supported me throughout and thanks to the Almighty they are proud of me today.
I haven't visited any of my relatives since then and also I don't allow my family to go to the places even if someone dies in the vicinity, because I don't want anyone to get harmed through infection from my side.
I still remember the first COVID-19 death in Srinagar. A 73 year old lady who hailed from Rainawari area of the district died, We were the only three persons who carried her for her last rites.
It was 11 pm at night and we managed to perform her last rites, it was heart wrenching.
I have been driving an ambulance since 2010 and I am happy with the way things are going. Yes, I have been occupied with my work of late but I am sure the situation will improve, and brighten as the crisis will end one day.
I would also like to thank some medical officers including CMO's from the health department who leave no stone unturned are extremely supportive. Because of them I feel confident and sure of the work I do.
I am available 24x7 as the department has given me an ambulance that is with me, so I can rush even if there is a casualty during the night in Srinagar.
Not only during the times of Covid-19, but when Burhan Wani was killed, Article 35-A was abrogated. I was on my toes and the department had full faith in me. I was amongst the few whose mobile services were restored only after 7 days post abrogation of Article 35A.
So, I wish everyone good health and my companions who are also fighting day in and day out amid the ongoing crisis.