In Co Do District in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, there is a special team of volunteer ambulance drivers who offer free services to local people.
|Nguyen Van Tac came up with the idea of a free ambulance service in Can Tho after seeing a loved one pass away. Photo cantho.tintuc.vn|
The team members do different jobs but share a common desire to help sick people in Trung Hung Commune, a remote area in Co Do District. Patients are sometimes taken to medical facilities too late because they cannot afford ambulance service or the ambulances have difficulty reaching them.
Nguyen Van Tac, 49, is the brains behind the free ambulance service. He realised that in emergency, a few extra minutes waiting for an ambulance could mean the difference between life and death.
In 2015, one of his relatives was in a critical condition and needed to be taken to Can Tho City which is 70km from the commune. An ambulance was unable to reach them in time, so Tac watched his loved one pass away without being able to do anything.
After that moment, he knew he had to do something. Along with other locals, he put some money together to buy a car. The first ambulance the crew bought cost VND35 million (US$1,520).
Team member Dang Van Gioi told Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper that the drivers who donated money did not have much. Donations were collected from their humble monthly incomes.
In addition to taking sick people to medical facilities, the car also acts as a hearse or carries pregnant women to hospital. All of the services are free.
Tac still remembers taking a corpse from Can Tho to the northern province of Thai Binh on a trip which lasted three days.
Drivers of other car services often refuse to take corpses because they are scared of bad luck. But Tac is always ready to lend a hand.
Many times, the free ambulance faced storms or was filled with blood and tears, but all drivers are full of affection.
Driver Nguyen Van Chua never forgets a woman who gave birth in the car while he was taking her, her husband and mother-in-law to hospital.
When the baby’s legs came out first the mother was so scared and she fainted. Then the husband fainted too.
“My hands and legs were shaking. I kept pressing the siren and driving fast until the ambulance reached the hospital.”
“I was both scared and worried at that time. Fortunately, the mother and the newborn were safe and healthy.”
The ambulance crew now has four cars. More and more local people and taxi drivers have volunteered to join the team.
“All our ambulances are ready around the clock no matter if it is rainy or sunny,” Tac, the team leader, said.
The team also donates money to build houses for the poor and all team members have donated blood many times.
Tac said: “All of the members have registered to donate organs. We feel happy doing something meaningful for the community.”
Do Van Quang, president of Trung Hung Commune’s Red Cross, said "There is no voluntary ambulance driver team like that in Can Thơ City. It is also unique in the south."