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Meet the Ambulance ManCHARITY COMES FIRST: Himanshu Kalia with his wife Twinkle

Meet the Ambulance Man

He has a heart that beats for the needy. He extends a helping hand each time someone needs it...27 Apr 2018 | 12:36 AM

Young and helpless, as 14-year-old Himanshu Kalia kneeled down and prayed for his father's life, he wished no one had to go through the same plight as his.

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Mona

Young and helpless, as 14-year-old Himanshu Kalia kneeled down and prayed for his father's life, he wished no one had to go through the same plight as his. He also asked God not to put anyone in the position that he was in and make him capable enough to lend a hand to anyone in need!

Twenty five years on, he is living his promise. His family, including his father, being a significant part of it! Famously called the Ambulance Man, Himanshu was in Chandigarh on Wednesday to garner support for another of his initiatives — to have a 15-lakh blood donors’ directory. This initiative stemmed from yet another experience. “A three-year-old child lost his life in a city like Delhi just because her family could not arrange for blood. As a father to a three-year-old girl myself, I thought it’s time for action. I cannot wait for another tragedy to strike my home before I make something work in this direction.”

Tragic turn

Back to 25 years; Himanshu came to know that his father had met with an accident in Delhi and he rushed to spot. Taking him in a rickshaw (that’s all he could afford) to a hospital, he got to know his father needs be taken to a bigger hospital. Confused, not able to get an ambulance, he called from an STD, numbers on his father’s diary...only no one came to help. An auto-rickshaw driver offered to drive him without any money (Himanshu had none on him) to AIIMS, but by then hours of delay made his father slip into coma. “That was the moment my childhood, my studies, my career and my future too slipped away.”

It took two-and-a-half years before his father could come out of coma and a few more of his becoming fit, but Himanshu kept his promise.

The beginning

When he got married and his in-laws would hear none of his no-dowry stance, they mutually agreed to have an ambulance as a wedding gift. From then on, the family today runs 20 ambulances in Delhi, available to anyone free of cost, and 47 more in partnership. And he and his father get behind the wheels of an ambulance as need arises, his wife Twinkle does it too and his mother is learning to drive an ambulance as well.

“What I went through was horrific. I do not want any other person to suffer like this.” Himanshu also organises blood donation camps, runs hearse vans to take the dead to crematoriums and also performs last rights of unclaimed bodies.

Working as insurance consultants, he and his wife fund most of it all by themselves. That it has been rather tough, he doesn’t deny. “I have two daughters. There are months when I cannot pay the school fee, but I got to pay the salary to the ambulance driver.”

Strong resolve

In Chandigarh for an awareness campaign to enlist donors, he intends to put it online so that help is just a click away.

“When you save a person, you are saving an entire family; their hopes, their future,” says the man who has been honoured by different nations. But more than that, he wishes for volunteers who can take his mission forward.

mona@tribunemail.com

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