The next time you plan to take your loved one to the hospital during an emergency on a state-run GVK EMRI 108 ambulance service popularly known as "arogya kavacha" think twice as it may turn tragic as its drivers have been caught drunk on duty.
There is the recent case of Rudreshappa, a 47-year-old driver, attached to 108 ambulance service from North Additional zone. He was caught by the Kamakshipalaya Traffic Police.
Kamakshipalaya Traffic Division is one of the busiest divisions as there is always heavy traffic movement and in such cases, there could be accidents, and hence the department has made it a point to always check on motorists especially for riding without helmet and drinking and driving.
"On Tuesday night when our staff were on the drive to crack drinking and driving, Rudreshappa was heading to Summanahalli junction from Kamakshipalaya. Our staff noticed that the ambulance movement was suspicious and stopped it. The driver smelled bad, and the alcometer and breath analyser showed that he was drunk," said Ravi Kumar, Kamakshipalaya Traffic Division Inspector.
He further added that documents had been sent to 108 ambulance service office and the licence has been impounded. The licence will be further sent to regional transport office for suspension. "We also have raised a complaint with health department about the seriousness of such cases," added Kumar.
Hanumantha, State Operation Head, GVK EMRI 108 ambulance services said such drunken drivers had given a bad impression of 108 ambulance service. To ensure that people continue to have faith in ambulance services, a suspension order has been prepared, and if need be, such drivers will be terminated.
"One and half years ago such an incident was reported. To bring in discipline among ambulance drivers, transfers were made, and few were terminated. The management also has deputed emergency management executives, program managers and regional managers who go on the field and conduct inspection. This activity will be further intensified," he said.
Health director Dr Natraj Gowda was not even aware of the incident. He said only after Newsable contacted to get his reaction he came to know about such an incident.
"This is the very serious issue. I will get the report from the Arogya kavacha heads and direct them to take stern action to prevent such incidents happening in future," he said.
In the past three four months there have been cases of traffic police catching drunk ambulance drivers. Almost as recent as September first week, an ambulance driver was caught driving under influence by the Ulsoor traffic police who were checking riders and drivers near Townhall. The alcometer showed 180mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, which is six times more than the permissible limit.
In June this year, the Halasuru police arrested a 35-year-old ambulance driver for drunk driving. He was on his way to pick up a patient from Shantinagar.