Haryana Police personnel in PPE kits with the COV-HOTS ambulances that have been pressed into service for ferrying Covid patients free of cost. (HT Photo)
Haryana Police personnel in PPE kits with the COV-HOTS ambulances that have been pressed into service for ferrying Covid patients free of cost. (HT Photo)

Haryana Police deploys 440 SUVs as ambulances for Covid patients

DGP says each police district will get 20 Toyota Innova SUVs to ferry Covid patients free of cost; move comes after complaints of shortage, fleecing by private ambulances
PUBLISHED ON MAY 06, 2021 05:22 PM IST

Following reports of shortage and complaints of overcharging by private ambulances, Haryana Police have temporarily pressed into service 440 sport utility vehicles (SUVs) for free transportation of Covid-19 patients.

These vehicles will be called COV-HOTS, short for Covid-19 Hospital Transport Service.

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Director general of police (DGP) Manoj Yadava said that each police district will get 20 Toyota Innova SUVs for this purpose. “These vehicles are being provided free of cost after complaints of either shortage or overcharging by private ambulance service providers,” he said.

126 COV-HOTS are on the road

As many as 126 COV-HOTS vehicles have already been pressed into service. Of them, 26 SUVs have been given to the Hisar range, while 20 are with Gurugram police commissionerate and Rohtak range. At least 10 SUVs have been given each to Faridabad and Panchkula commissionerate, 12 each to Ambala and Karnal ranges and 16 vehicles to Rewari south range.

Seventy SUVs will reach the districts on Thursday and the remaining 244 will be delivered by Sunday evening, the DGP said.

Dial 108 or police control room number

Yadava said these vehicles are exclusively for transporting Covid patients. Persons in need can dial 108 or the police control room number of the district to which they belong for free transportation from their homes to hospitals or vice-versa.

To ensure that police personnel driving these vehicles are not exposed to any infection, they will wear masks, gloves and PPE kits while on duty.

Heavy penalty proposed for overcharging

Three days ago, the Haryana government directed the regional transport authorities (RTAs) to impose a minimum fine of 50,000 on private ambulance drivers or owners if caught overcharging.

An advance life support (ALS) ambulance can be hired at the rate of 15/km and basic life support (BLS) ambulances cannot charge more than 7/km for transporting patients in any emergency, including accidents.

The state health department wrote to the transport commissioner on Monday about how private ambulances are fleecing patients. The penalty for overcharging includes cancelling of the driving licence of the ambulance driver.

The department has directed that RTAs can also cancel the registration certificate of the ambulance or impound the vehicle and impose a penalty starting from a minimum of 50,000 in case of non-compliance of instructions.

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