Stuck before wild elephants in PPE kits, Gireesh and Shyamili recount their 'test of fire'
Palakkad: “I did not know how the elephants would have reacted if I stepped outside the ambulance in my PPE kit. I wanted to take the COVID patient in the ambulance to the hospital as soon as possible. Yet, I panicked when I saw the herd. After mustering up courage, I started the vehicle and stayed there with the lights on for nearly two and half hours.” The memories of the life and death situation is still vivid in Gireesh’s memory.
Gireesh is an ‘108 ambulance' driver. He was stuck with a COVID patient in his ambulance after he spotted a herd of wild elephants in the Nelliyampathy hairpin road. Emergency medical technician was also in the ambulance with him in the ambulance. They were both in PPE kits.
“We went to Nelliyampathy on Wednesday evening at 7 pm, after a person who came from Coimbatore tested positive for COVID. That was the 18th patient that we took to the hospital on the day. We were warned that there would be elephants on the way …”
“We got stuck in front of the elephants after we came down the hairpin road. There were 4 elephants in total, including a calf. They did not move even after we started the vehicle and switched on the lights. Since the patient was a native of Nelliyampathy and did not carry any symptoms, there wasn’t any complication. We had to stay there between 8 pm and 11 pm. Finally, forest department officials came with a torch after we informed them and sent the elephants back to the forest”, Gireesh said.
Gireesh, a Thiruvananthapuram native, reached Palakkad for COVID duty in February. Emergency medical technician, Shyamili, is a native of Parambikkulam. She said that they have spotted wild elephants in the past as well and that she hopes to return home after her COVID test.