Looking for an ambulance? 

Looking for an ambulance? 

A quick guide to free and reasonably priced services

Kaveri Ambulance is available round the clock, and has set aside five of its 25 vehicles for the poor.

The demand for ambulances has spiked, as Bengaluru went into lockdown to curb the spread of the Covid virus.

Reports are pouring in about ambulance drivers cashing in on the crisis. An ambulance driver reportedly demanded Rs 60,000 to transport a body from a hospital to the crematorium, and the police had to intervene. He had already collected Rs 13,000.

Metrolife went looking for reasonably priced ambulance services, and here is what we found.

Emergency Response

108 is a common number used across 18 states and two union territories. The service is absolutely free and is available 24x7. “A vehicle leaves within seven to 10 seconds of us receiving the call,” says a representative.

Bengaluru for Migrant Workers

This voluntary group, formed last year, runs a free ambulance service for everyone, and throughout the day. 

Saqib Idrees, founder, says, “Though our group was focused on migrants last year, this year we have extended our services to everyone. Our volunteers work for free.” The ambulance is equipped with oxygen. “We own two ambulances and have hired another for emergencies,” he says.

Yuva Morcha

An ambulance service run by the Yuva Morcha offers free trips in Bengaluru North. Raghavendra, volunteer, says, “We don’t charge anything for moving a body or taking a patient to the hospital. A nurse works with a helper and driver in our vehicle, and takes care of the patient.”

Working from 6 am to 10 pm, the service with one ambulance and adding another shortly, hopes to soon work round the clock.

Kaveri Ambulance

This is available round the clock, and has set aside five of its 25 vehicles for the poor.

Chandu Gowda, manager, says, “We move Covid bodies for free services for the poor. For others, we charge around Rs 3,000 to transport a patient and Rs 5,000 to transport a body.” The service receives 40 to 50 calls every day.

Star Ambulance

Star Ambulance, Kalyan Nagar, charges between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000 (with oxygen) to transport a patient to hospital. The service is open 24x7, and has a fleet of six vehicles.

Bosco Funeral Service

Located in Austin Town, this uses a modified Qualis to transport Covid bodies. 

Prabhu Bosco, owner, charges Rs 2,500 for those who can afford it, and nothing for the poor. “We work from 6 am to 6 pm,” he says.

Why are rates spiking?

How are private ambulances making a killing when the government’s free 108 service works round the clock?

Dr Deepak Balani, chief of medical services at a private hospital, says, “Everything in the healthcare system is under severe strain.” Earlier, to take a sick person to the hospital, you could hail a cab on an app, but today’s situation calls for greater precautions, and ambulances are best. “There is an increased burden on ambulances,” he says. Dr Mabel Vasnaik, consultant, accident emergency care at a private hospital, says 108 ambulances are state of the art. “They have BLS (basic life support) but given the increased demand, private vehicles are cashing in,” she says, adding that it is unethical and sad.

A doctor with critical care in a private hospital says, “There are many syndicates exploiting the situation. The moment a drug is said to be beneficial for Covid-19, it is hoarded, goes out of stock, and its price is hiked.” The situation with ambulances is similar, he says.

Higher rates

Many ambulance services are asking for Rs 7,000 to Rs 10,000, as against the usual Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000 (within city limits), to take a Covid patient to hospital. Owners cite ‘additional risk’ as the reason for the higher pricing. “There are times when we end up having to drive around the city looking for a bed,” says an ambulance owner. 

Free for everyone

Emergency response service: 108

Yuva Morcha:
77953 62199

Bengaluru for Migrant Workers: 80509 26443, 88614 78752

Free for poor

Kaveri Ambulance: 88848 88306

Bosco Funeral Service: 77958 44055

Moderately priced

Star Ambulance: 98804 04746