The story behind the Rs100 Ambulance story during Covid times in Navi Mumbai

At the end of June 2021, combining the power of zero experience and maximum enthusiasm, I launched the ‘100 Rupees Ambulance’ service in Navi Mumbai during the Covid pandemic
Ambulance owner Raghav Narsalay and his chauffeur start the Rs100 Patient Transport Ambulance service only for the city of Navi Mumbai during Covid pandemic. (BACHCHAN KUMAR/HT PHOTO)
Ambulance owner Raghav Narsalay and his chauffeur start the Rs100 Patient Transport Ambulance service only for the city of Navi Mumbai during Covid pandemic. (BACHCHAN KUMAR/HT PHOTO)
Published on Oct 21, 2021 09:33 PM IST
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ByRaghav Narsalay, Navi mumbai

Four years ago, when I had to rush my mother to a hospital, we were fleeced by an ambulance service. I had decided then that the ambulance service sector required reform, even if it meant at the hyperlocal level.

The Covid-19 pandemic and my own infection this April was the push I needed to turn this thought into action. Dipping into my savings, I bought an ambulance for 16.5 lakh. This was not enough, of course. A wheelchair, oxygen cylinders and PPE kits, among other things had to be purchased. That was an additional expense of around 50,000. An experienced ambulance pilot joined a few days later.

At the end of June 2021, combining the power of zero experience and maximum enthusiasm, I launched the ‘100 Rupees Ambulance’ service in Navi Mumbai. The premise was simple: charge 100 for a one-way trip to the hospital or back. At the time of writing, the service has completed 77 trips in three months, transporting more than 30 patients across Navi Mumbai. The experience so far has been both humbling and rewarding.

One patient, who had to undergo a major surgery, was picked up at Ulwe and dropped at a hospital 28km away in Kalwa. He paid just 100. In these 77 trips the ‘100rsambulance’ has covered more than 1,800km; an average of around 23km per trip.

The city has showered us with blessings, good wishes and priceless memories. I have had the fortune of accompanying patients on many occasions and felt their pain, and when they recovered, joined their celebrations. On most occasions, the families and the patients need only a firm hand holding them through the crisis, someone who was ready to listen and offer help. I am just glad that it was me and my team.

One of my fondest memories involves a 22-year-old engineering student who was detected with cancer, and had to travel 14km each way from Ulwe to Sanpada for radiation therapy. His father was offered a discounted deal of 7,000 for a return trip by a local ambulance service. In short, he would have had to incur 91,000 for the 13-day treatment. Unable to afford this, his father decided to take him in a small cargo vehicle. Just before he did that, he wrote to us. I went to their house with the ambulance and chauffeur and ensured that his son was transported to the radiation facility at Sanpada. Instead of spending 91,000, the family paid just 2,600 for the 26 trips. I will never forget how the father, with tears in his eyes, held my hands in gratitude – an experience that left me speechless.

Several individuals reached out to me extending financial and other support. I have politely refused. Many people ask me how I can afford to pay upward of 30,000 a month to run this service. My response? I am blessed with a great family – wife, daughter, mother and sister — who support me, and a job that pays me well.

We have also been helping other ambulance services in the city sharing their numbers with patients for calls we cannot attend either due to being booked or due to our inability to provide services across cities.

I have two learnings to share from this incredible journey. Don’t keep contemplating. Just do what you believe in and you will see that things fall in place. And the other being, don’t wait for others to help you. Help yourself first and then see how others rush to help you.

The ‘100rsambulance’ currently operates only in Navi Mumbai, Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 10 pm. Call 9820770021 or visit www.100rsambulance.com. Social media: @100rsambulance on both Twitter and Instagram

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Wednesday, December 01, 2021