Ola partners with Karnataka govt, launches medical transport for non-coronavirus patients
Ola, the Bengaluru-based ride hailing unicorn has announced the launch of Ola Emergency on its app to enable essential medical trips on its platform. The startup has partnered with the Ministry of Health, Government of Karnataka. The new category will bring a much-needed mobility solution for many citizens who do not have a mode of transport to access a hospital in case of a medical emergency.
The service begins in Bengaluru with a network of trained drivers and clean and equipped cars. The company says it plans to launch the service in other major cities soon. Ola has enabled over 200+ hospitals in Bengaluru to provide the service to citizens. The service in the city is to enable medical trips that are non-coronavirus and do not require an ambulance.
B. Sriramulu, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka, speaking at the launch, said, “After the lockdown, for COVID-19 all 108 ambulances are being used. To ensure citizens are not troubled, Ola has come forward and will transport people with all cases of medical trips and emergencies that don’t require an ambulance, between homes and hospitals, for a minimal charge. This permission has been provided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to provide an essential service to the citizens in need.”
Starting today, the network of cars that are equipped with masks and sanitisers, will be operated by specially trained drivers. To book an ‘Ola Emergency’ cab, citizens can select the category 'Enabled for Hospitals' on their Ola app and enter the drop location from a list of available hospitals in the city.
Customers will be charged a nominal fare to compensate driver-partners for their services.
Speaking on ‘Ola Emergency’ services, Anand Subramanian, Spokesperson and Head of Communications, Ola, said in a press statement,
“Ola Emergency will help thousands of citizens get access to quick, convenient, and safe transport for trips from home to hospital and vice versa, amidst the minimal availability of transportation during this time. With a dedicated network of sanitised cars and trained drivers, the service will be available 24x7 on the Ola app for citizens of Bengaluru. We thank the Karnataka State Govt for the opportunity to collaborate in serving our citizens in these challenging times. We will continue to collaborate with Central and State governments to provide hassle-free mobility solutions for essential travel and make similar services available in more cities soon.”
Only trips from home to hospital and vice versa will be enabled through the Ola emergency category. If another location other than a hospital is entered, the booking request won't be accepted, as in the below screenshot.
The press statement added that Ola is working with the authorities to ensure all drivers and cars are equipped with essential protective equipment, and will ensure the service is used only for medical travel that is non-COVID and doesn’t require an ambulance, like for dialysis, chemotherapy, scheduled check-ups and physical injuries among others.
Last week, Ola also collaborated with the Karnataka State Government and stakeholders like the Corona Task Force, to help ferry senior citizens in need of medical support across Bengaluru and Hubli-Dharwad. Through ‘Ola Foods’ the company has been supporting various efforts to provide migrant workers with quality, hygienic food in Bengaluru.
Additionally, Ola Foundation, the social welfare arm of the company, had recently launched the ‘Drive the Driver Fund’ to support cab, autorickshaw, and kaali-peeli taxi drivers across the country, through contributions from the Ola Group and through a crowdfunding platform for citizens and institutions.
(Edited by Javed Gaihlot)