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In trying times, how the young wielded social media to provide succour

As anguished relatives searched for hospital beds, oxygen and medicines in these troubled times, social media platforms came alive with youngsters taking the responsibility of helping them
By Haidar Naqvi, Kanpur:
PUBLISHED ON MAY 01, 2021 12:08 AM IST

As anguished relatives searched for hospital beds, oxygen and medicines in these troubled times, social media platforms came alive with youngsters taking the responsibility of helping them.

In Kanpur, where chaos prevailed in the third week of this month, countless people were helped.

The youngsters kept tabs on availability of beds in Covid-19 hospitals. They helped with the admission of people, reached out to people who could help with procuring/refilling oxygen cylinders, arranged for medicines like Fabiflu, which had disappeared from pharmacies, and even found plasma and blood donors.

Their network helped in different cities of Uttar Pradesh constantly passing on leads to each other. “People were desperately looking for genuine information and help; along with others, I built resources calling hospitals and Covid command centres about availability of beds,” said Harsh Chauhan, a law student and blogger from South Kanpur.

“We check and cross-check the information, which we share on our accounts,” said Mudit Sapra, who is Covid-19 positive but continues with the work. “The biggest problem was finding ICU beds or beds with ventilators. But I will continue to work day and night till as long as this phase lasts,” he said.

Punit Bhatia, working with a private firm in Alwar, Rajasthan, got help for his sinking father-in-law, and moved from Chunar to Varanasi, after he got support from one such group. He was not being admitted in any hospital, he was alone with his wife in a car with SPO2 level critically low at 60.

“My friend shared the information on Twitter, and in less than an hour, a girl called Anushka Tulsyan contacted us and got a bed in the district hospital. Now, he is recovering. I can’t thank her enough and her friends,” said Punit, who is from Kanpur.

Tulsyan was contacted and appraised of Bhatia’s situation by a Kanpur poet. In his 20s, he doesn’t want his identity to be known. This young poet is part of a bigger network comprising students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, IIT Kanpur, Delhi, Jamia Milia and other institutes.

Apart from beds, this group extended help with oxygen cylinders, referral letters of chief medical officer (CMO) need for hospitalisation, and medicines. They created a limited database of plasma donors whom they cajoled to donate.

“The toughest part was the oxygen; looking for resources was tedious. Everyone worked tirelessly to keep sharing information about its availability. We put up doubly verified information, complete with location and phone numbers, for people to avail,” he said.

Like them, Sharad Tripathi used multipleplatforms to reach out to people to help. “At a point, I was getting 200-250calls in a day for help. The number of calls had gone down now. I used mycontacts and developed resources. I think I could help one person out of 15-20people, but even that is very satisfying,” he said.

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