This man drove where others feared to tread

His friends and acquaintances in his hometown have disowned him and his family there is petrified. But Ameer Jahn knows his presence in Benglauru is necessary in these dark times. An ambulance driver, Jahn is sure the day is not far off when he can walk into the arms of his waiting wife and two little children. Jahn is among the few ambulance drivers on special duty as part of operations to tackle the outbreak in Bengaluru. He has transported 17 positive patients so far, mostly to Victoria and Bowring hospital. Some he says, were in critical condition. The 33-year-old previously worked as private bus driver, ferrying passengers from Bengaluru to Chennai and back. Asked how he landed the job as an ambulance driver, Jahn jovially says, “Everyone can’t sit at home during this crisis, right? Someone has to do the essential work.” Late in March, the 108 service sent out text messages seeking drivers to transport Covid patients. While most refused to volunteer fearing infection, Jahn promptly signed up. “On March 28, I discussed the idea with my family in Tipunagar, Chintamani town, Chikkaballapura district and they reluctantly agreed,” he said. “I came straight to Bengaluru and went to the 108 office in Basaveshwaranagar.” Following a day’s training, Jahn was handed keys to an ambulance. His first call came on March 30. “I had to shift a 65-year-old positive patient from a private hospital in Rajajinagar. The man was extremely ill, but there was none to help him as people feared catching the infection. Paramedics and I helped him into the ambulance and I drove him to Victoria hospital,” he said. Workers like Jahn don’t have the luxury of going home every day after work. They have been ordered to stay in temporary staff quarters until the crisis settle. He stays at the leprosy hospital on Magadi Road. “I haven’t gone home since March 28. People in my village have warned me not to return until I can prove I’m virus free. The only time I spend with my family is on video calls,” the driver said. Now, two weeks into his job, Jahn says case is heartbreaking. One such drive two days ago left him teary-eyed. “I had to ferry an entire family of seven, including two women and two children for medical tests. All through the journey, I silently prayed that they test negative. The results are yet to come,” he said.