The CRPF, in the thick of anti-Naxal operations in Chhattisgarh, has launched a unique bike ambulance initiative for providing basic healthcare facilities to those living in remote jungle areas of Bastar region.
Medical teams, accompanied by well-armed security personnel ride their motorcycles to help the sick and injured in about 70 villages of Bijapur district that shares its border with Dantewada — the worst Maoist violence-hit district of the state — and also adjoining Telangana and Maharashtra.
We got these motorbikes a few years back for anti-Naxal patrols and operations as four-wheelers were easy for the ultras to target. Then we thought, why not use these two-wheelers to help the locals who are ill?,” Commandant of the 85th CRPF battalion Sudhir Kumar told PTI.
The battalion is based in Bijapur.
A field surgical team, comprising a doctor, a paramedic and an assistant, are part of the bike ambulance team. They go to villages either as part of a patrol or are called in by the villagers in need.
The team has also visited villages that flank the 30km long Bijapur-Gangloor axis that has claimed lives of as many as 150 security personnel over the years.
“There are only two government health centres in the interiors of the district. Hence, we decided to send our medical teams on bikes to cater to the needy. These teams have helped in rushing the critically ill to the district headquarter and also provided Jaipur foot to a tribal who had to undergo amputation,” Kumar.
According to the Commanding Officer (CO), even while on operations these teams carry medicines that are used to treat regular health issues prevalent in these areas like malaria and typhoid.
There are risks involved too as there have been incidents when security personnel responded to an emergency call from locals and they were ambushed by Naxals. But, we take calculated risks and every such medical team is accompanied by a well-armed security squad,” Kumar said.
This new initiative is also a step towards widening the Central Reserve Police Force’s (CRPF) civic action work that is traditionally conducted to befriend the locals by providing household items to them using government funds.
“We are reaping rich dividends after the bike ambulance initiative was launched sometime back. Our troops got timely inputs from locals about some IEDs (improvised explosive devices) secretly concealed under roads by Naxals to ambush security forces, apart from getting cooperation in rendering our other duties,” Kumar said.
With the success of this initiative, the 85th battalion of the CRPF is now sending its officials on bikes to hold few school sessions for students living in the interiors of Bijapur district, the Commanding Officer said.
A senior official at the command office in Raipur said the force has decided to replicate the Bijapur bike ambulance initiative in other areas of the Bastar region, worst-hit by Naxal violence.
“That would be on a case-by-case basis keeping in mind the security of the troops,” the official said.