Ambulance Dada of Jalpaiguri, who has saved 4000 lives!
The year was 1995. Zafuran Nessa was unwell. It was well past midnight and she was restless. Her familyrealized she needed immediate medical care, but they lived in Dhalabari, a remote village of Jalpaiguri district and nearest health centre was a little over 40 kms from their home. Her family members ran from pillar to post trying to arrange for a transport to rush her to the hospital, but failed and finally, at around 2.45 am, she breathed her last. Her son Karimul was devastated and stood helpless watching his mother die. Amid this colossal loss, Karimul realized that there were many others in the village like his mother, who might succumb to illnesses due to lack of treatment.He took a resolution that he would do something to ensure that none ever dies due to lack of treatment.
Since then, he has been on a mission to save lives. The idea of a bike ambulance occurred to him a few years later when his colleague, Azizul, collapsed on the field in front of him. Karimul tied him to his back and rode 50 km down to Jalpaiguri Sadar Hospital. Azizul was saved and Karimul found a new reason to live. He got the word ‘Ambulance’ written prominently on his motorcycle. It also mentioned that his Free Service was available 24X7, all round the year. That was the beginning and since then, there has been no looking back.
Initially, villagers were skeptic and even mocked him. But Karimul stuck to his resolution and extended help to residents of 15 nearby villages. Whenever Karimul gets a call from any hapless family, he rushes to the spot on his bike. With a long piece of cloth, he ties the patient on his back and drives him/her to hospital. He carries one of the family members of the patient to take care of the patient, while he rides the bike relentlessly to reach a hospital.
Dr Hiten Barman, doctor in-charge of the local primary health centre has stood as a pillar of strength for Karimul. The man who earns a meagre Rs 4,000 a month saves a thousand rupees for his motorcycle so that he never needs to turn anyone down. Having seen his dedication, the manager of the tea estate where he works has also increased his salary by a thousand rupees.
Karimul’s bike ambulance is the perfect vehicle for difficult terrains, which remain out of bounds during the monsoons. There are intermittent forests, canals, narrow dirt-filled slippery roads, which can only be maneuvered on two wheels. Recently Bajaj upgraded his bike and fitted it with a waterproof stretcher and ports for oxygen cylinder as part of their corporate social responsibility initiative.
Karimul drives patients to Jalpaiguri, Siliguri, Malbazar and other medical facilities in the vicinity. Seeing his dedication, many doctors from the hospitals have extended him a helping hand and have even trained him in first aid and basic treatments. They have provided him a list of medicines which he can recommend to people for minor illnesses. Karimul has been dealing with medical emergencies for more than a decade and that has boosted his confidence to conduct regular health camps in tribal areas. So far, he has saved over 4000 lives. His wife Anjuara Begum and their four children are proud of Karimul. The Union government honoured him with the prestigious Padmashri Award as recognition of his selfless service to the people.
He has further extended his area of activity and now with the help of the Local Block Development Officer (BDO) and Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO), he has been arranging for ration free of cost to people living below the poverty line or people who starve. He also gets old clothes and blankets from town and cities and distributes them among the needy.
This Messiah of the Poor has a dream: to bring an advanced ambulance to his village equipped with all the necessary facilities and he strives day and night to fulfill his dream.