She ferries people during emergencies

She ferries people during emergencies

The world turned upside down for C S Radhika, when her husband C S Suresh died in 2002. She was 28 and had two daughters aged six and three at that time.

“I was a homemaker. My husband was the breadwinner of the family. My mind became blank the day he died, as I looked at the years ahead of me and responsibilities that burdened my shoulders all at once,” Radhika said.

More than ten years later, Radhika operates an ambulance service, even driving one of the vehicles herself.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, she recalled: “I grew up in Hassan and married Suresh from Kodagu. We settled in Mangalore and started our small family. We were not rich but self sufficient. Suresh owned an ambulance which he used to drive around during emergencies and the family survived on this income.

A few years later, he got a job in KSRTC. I was very happy as his new job meant financial stability. It was at this time, the news about his death hit me.

“I was a young widow, with two little girls. I did not know how to survive. Then I glanced at the ambulance parked outside and saw a ray of hope. I knew that to feed my family, the only option I had was to drive my ambulance,” she said.

Radhika became a full time driver of the ambulance. “I knew first aid, procedures like fixing an oxygen mask, administering drips and even giving injection, as I worked as an assistant nurse in a small hospital in Puttur. I used to get calls late in the night.

I had to leave my sleeping children with my mother and drive to the spot. Most of the calls used to come from Kerala and I had to drive fast to attend to the emergency. Many times I administered first aid myself and then drove patients to the hospital,” she said.

Radhika receives calls to take bodies to the mortuary or to the deceased persons’ place for last rites. “We have an ice-box to store bodies. I have driven all the way to Bangalore alone to deliver bodies,” she said. Radhika has also driven to Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh with a co-driver, delivering bodies.

An entrepreneur

As Suresh had insured his life, Radhika received some money after his death. “ He was very fond of helping people and had dreamt of owning an ambulance service. I decided to realise his dream and purchased a bigger ambulance with all the equipment and also hired a driver, with the insurance money,” she said.

Thus began “Cauvery Ambulance Service” and soon Radhika took loan from a bank to purchase two more ambulances. Today, the fleet has seven vehicles.

“The last decade has been one of struggle. I am still paying loans, but life has become better. One of my girls is in school, while the other is in college. There were many people who tried to pull me down as they looked at me as competition.

I did not look back nor did I have time to waste thinking about petty issues. I had to survive and give a good future for my girls,” she said.

Suresh had taught me to drive the ambulance when he was alive, as I kept insisting that I wanted to learn driving. I never thought this would one day help me take care of my family, she concludes.

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