It started as a desperate measure during a financial crunch, but it ended up being something unique. A woman driving a taxi is less known as it is; but a woman driving an ambulance–a first in Tamil Nadu; a very very inspiring first.
Here’s 30-year-old Veeralakshmi’s story, who finished her diploma in automobile engineering and moved to Chennai from Theni after getting married.
Due to a financial crunch, Veeralakshmi decided to help her husband who had been driving taxies for 10 years. She began working as a taxi driver too.
In September, the state of Tamil Nadu decided to roll out 118 new ambulances to strengthen the state’s emergency services during the on-going pandemic.
On learning that the state was recruiting people for the ambulances, she went for it. “I wanted to step out and help the people in this difficult period,” says Veeralakshmi.
“After knowing that I have a heavy-vehicle driving license and a three-year on-the-road experience, I was called for the interview. They (GVK-EMRI Agency which holds the contract for ambulances in Tamil Nadu) were a bit hesitant to appoint a woman as an ambulance pilot because it has never happened before. But after consulting with their head office, they said they will appoint me after the test drive. I performed well in all the tests and briefed me about the responsibilities of being an ambulance pilot and how difficult the job would be,” told Veeralakshmi.
Mother of two, Veeralakshmi said after watching the entire country battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, she wanted to help the people.
“I had no fear. I was interested in taking up this job. I was serving as a call taxi driver for three years. I wanted to step out and help the people in this difficult period. I started training for the ambulance pilot position at the beginning of June. With the support of seniors and others, I completed my training and now I am completely focused on the job.”
Veeralakshmi said her family was a bit hesitant initially but they understood that this is what she wanted to do. “I miss my children, but that’s what every woman goes through in our country. I strive to save as many lives as possible,” she said.
Today, she is the first woman ambulance pilot in the state.