This astonishing display of Citizen Power by Kerala makes one wonder if the supposed disturbances in society are only confined to TV screens, FB news feeds, and newspapers! Certain forces have created such an illusioned environment that forces us to see an oasis of negativity and hatred, which often cannot be more wrong about reality. Incidents like this one restore our faith in the humanitarian principles of brotherhood and peace.
On November 2017, a month old baby Fathima Laiba suffering from a critical heart condition was admitted to Kannur Pariyaram Medical College. Later in the evening, her condition worsened and she had to urgently shift to Sri Chitra Institute in Thiruvananthapuram, for further treatment. The challenge was to cover the distance of more than 500 km between Kannur and Thiruvananthapuram in minimal time. An alternative was to airlift the baby; however given her critical condition, doctors were unsure if she’d be able to handle the air pressure from an altitude. Besides, the arrangement of an air ambulance would take up to 5-6 hours. Accepting the default option, Thamim, the ambulance driver along with the stand-by paramedical team hit the road.
Ideally, the journey would easily consume 13-15 hours depending upon the traffic. The word reached The Child Protect Team, Kerala who started circulating the details of the journey, ambulance number, and live location using the GPS connected with the ambulance on its social media, and Whatsapp groups. It requested its volunteers and other people to help clear traffic congestion in their area if it falls under the route of the ambulance. Rinto, a member of the para-medical staff also assisted in their efforts. The word spread like wildfire. Thamim started the ambulance at 8:20 pm; his driving skills at its finest. Updated with the live location of the ambulance, hundreds of citizens came on streets to ensure that the roads in their area were free of congestion for the ambulance to pass smoothly. Probably, a first, Kerala roads were traffic free during peak hours.
As the news spread, not only citizens, but also The Kerala Police, Radio Stations, and a few regional media outlets joined hands to spread the message, track the live location and re-route vehicles to ensure that the baby reached the hospital in time. As a result, the journey that would eat up 13-14 hours of time was completed in about 6 hours and 45 minutes! In fact, the ambulance did not stop even once except for a voluntary halt to feed the baby. People took a sigh of relief only once Rinto posted about their safe arrival to Thiruvananthapuram. Had it not been for Thamim’s resolve and the public’s spirit, we wouldn’t be able to cite this example today.
We are speechless by this force of humanity that compels an entire state to sacrifice their comfort, forget their cultural biases, and stand as one for a stranger’s life. It is this very fabric of selfless care that we are all woven with. Time and again, it is proven that humanity triumphs over all adversities.
Note- Someone posted a (then) live video about the empty roads in their area on facebook that you can watch here. You can also see the twitter thread of a person named Advaid who was constantly posting updates during the incident.