VĨNH LONG — Lê Thanh Lộc, a former bus driver, and his friends have purchased ambulances to provide free patient transportation for his local town.
In his past as a bus driver, Lộc, a 53-year-old man from Long Hồ, Vinh Long, witnessed many cases of people struggling to find transport to go to hospital because they had no money.
They often had to go by motorbike when their health was under threat, sometimes late at night.
Lộc said that more than four years ago, after collecting VNĐ155 million (US$6,792) from friends, family and benefactors, he bought an old minivan, and renovated it into an ambulance to transport patients for free.
Lộc’s team keeps records of donations, as well as patient information and confirmations from local medical clinics.
“We transfer more than 150 patients a year on average. This number is even higher during the pandemic, but the old car still works well,” said Lộc.
Beginning on his own, Lộc’s kindness soon attracted other people who wanted to help the community.
To date, Lộc’s volunteer group has had seven drivers taking shifts to transport patients for free 24 hours per day.
However, because the car is not fully equipped for pandemic prevention, every time it returns from a hospital, the driver is isolated, which makes work difficult for Lộc’s group. Lộc intends to upgrade the car to solve the problem.
Recently, a benefactor donated VNĐ100 million for Lộc to purchase a refurbished car.
Lộc then modified it and added medical equipment to help with COVID patient transport.
“Our work is supported by the people as well as local authorities. We have reserved parking spaces at local clinics to conveniently transport patients,” said Lộc.
“Benefactors support us with gasoline bills and repair costs, etc. And most importantly, our seven drivers are always ready to help, without requiring merit. This precious help from everyone is what drives us to continue our work.”
Trần Thanh Khanh, 41, a member of Lộc’s group recalls the time when he joined the group.
A former service driver out of job, he wanted to dedicate his time to help transport patients, and did it out of goodwill.
His view is shared by fellow driver Trần Bá Trung who said: “When patients appreciate my effort, even just by a normal ‘thank you’, or a smile, that makes me less tired.”
Nguyễn Thị Diệu Huyền, vice chairwoman of Phú Quới Commune People’s Committee, Long Hồ District, said: “The members of Lộc’s group are very enthusiastic in contributing to the emergency transport of patients, and very timely too. The drivers are always ready to help benevolently, regardless if it’s day or night, and despite the weather.”
Huyền added that Phú Quới Commune People’s Committee had assisted the group in many ways, such as gathering resources and donations to support the cost of gasoline and medical equipment, so that Lộc’s group can continue to work, even in these difficult times. — VNS