The husband-wife duo, Himanshu and Twinkle Kalia from Delhi, has been running a free ambulance service for ferrying patients for almost two decades now. Going beyond the call of duty, the couple fetches medicines, arranges funerals and sometimes, steps in to perform last rites as well. The duo continued their service even during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we salute the COVID heroes, let's look back at their journey and how they have helped save thousands of lives.
In 1992, 14-year-old Himanshu Kalia's father met with a road accident and the way the tragedy unfolded for the family was devastating. The accident occurred at 7pm but his father got admission to AIIMS hospital in the national capital at 2am. For seven hours, the family drove the elderly man from one hospital to another in auto-rickshaw and rickshaw because they could not find an ambulance for him. Because of the delay in the treatment, Mr Kalia slipped into a coma.
However, Mr Kalia came out of a coma after two years and was advised complete bed rest for the next two years. But his son had decided that he doesn't want any other child to face what he and his family had gone through. Over the next few years, Himanshu Kalia worked at different places to make ends meet.
Later, in 2002, before the wedding, Himanshu Kalia's in-laws offered to gift him a car, home furnishings and other luxurious and daily need items but Mr Kalia refused all and instead asked for an ambulance. And that is how Mr Kalia's journey of providing free ambulance service to people in need began.
Later, in 2007, Mr Kalia's wife, Twinkle Kalia was diagnosed with Hepatitis B for which there is no treatment worldwide. Doctors said that she will live only six more months but to everyone's surprise, Mrs Kalia tested negative for Hepatitis B after seven weeks. The whole incident motivated her to help other patients.
On March 8, 2019, Mrs Kalia who claims to be India's first woman ambulance driver was felicitated with ?Nari Shakti Puraskar' by the President of India. Mrs Kalia continued working during the COVID-19 pandemic even after being diagnosed with breast cancer and was advised strict bed rest for six months.
'I feel God gave me a second lease of life with the purpose of helping others', said Mrs Kalia on asking what motivates her to serve others.
The ?ambulance couple' sells insurance for a living and puts almost everything they earn into helping people. Sometimes they also get donations in the form of someone paying for the fuel. The duo along with 10 other people in their team run the free ambulance service and have helped over 80,000 people in almost two decades.
In the COVID-19 pandemic, they have transported around 200 dead bodies and 400 patients. To protect themselves, the team follows COVID precautionary measures including regular sanitisation of their ambulances and also wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).
The service that started from North Delhi now covers all parts of the national capital. The team also takes non-emergency requests like taking a patient from hospital to home or transporting a dead body to the cremation ground from other nearby areas like Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gurugram, and Sonipat. Anyone requiring ambulance service in Delhi-NCR can call on +918804102102.