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Pony ambulance service designed to provide healthcare support to Amarnath pilgrims on rugged tracks

This horse-mounted emergency response system provides an adaptable solution. Each pony ambulance is equipped with essential medical kits and oxygen cylinders, making them a lifeline for those in need of immediate medical attention.
Last Updated : 08 July 2024, 10:15 IST

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Srinagar: An innovative initiative - ‘Pony Ambulance’ - has been started by the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir to provide critical healthcare support to Amarnath pilgrims during their journey on rugged terrain and high altitudes.

The journey to sacred Amarnath Cave, high in the majestic south Kashmir Himalayas, while spiritually fulfilling, is physically demanding. Pilgrims brave rugged terrain, steep inclines, and high altitudes, often facing health challenges such as altitude sickness and severe exhaustion.

Recognising the critical need for medical support along this arduous route, the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir has launched an innovative initiative: the ‘Pony Ambulance’.

The initiative has garnered appreciation from pilgrims as it has transformed their journey into a safer, more reassuring experience.

The concept of the pony ambulance is as ingenious as it is practical. Traditional mobile healthcare units are impractical on the narrow, treacherous paths leading to the Amarnath Cave.

Instead, this horse-mounted emergency response system provides an adaptable solution. Each pony ambulance is equipped with essential medical kits and oxygen cylinders, making them a lifeline for those in need of immediate medical attention.

The pony ambulance units are strategically deployed along both the Baltal and Pahalgam routes, two primary pathways to the cave.

Expertly trained handlers guide these ponies, ensuring they can navigate the steep, narrow trails where no vehicle could venture. Accompanying the ponies are skilled paramedics, ready to provide on-the-spot medical care to any pilgrim in distress.

Secretary Health and Medical Education, Syed Abid Rashid Shah, highlighted the importance of this service.

“We are committed to ensuring the well-being of Shri Amarnath Ji yatris. The pony ambulance service has boosted pilgrims’ confidence and comfort during the yatra,” Shah said.

For many pilgrims, the sight of the pony ambulance has become a symbol of reassurance and care. The presence of these mobile units not only provides critical medical support but also alleviates the anxiety that can accompany such a challenging journey.

The initiative represents a significant step forward in ensuring that the spiritual quest to Amarnath remains a safe and fulfilling experience for all who undertake it.

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Published 08 July 2024, 10:15 IST

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