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Bus drivers pull out all stops to carry COVID patients

By LI WENFANG| China Daily| Updated: January 3, 2023 L M S


Chaoyang district's emergency medical center bustles with activity on Thursday, responding to calls from the public. The center in Beijing has increased the number of duty staff to deal with calls in the wake of a spike in COVID-19 infections.[WANG FEI/FOR CHINA DAILY] 

Bus drivers are being trained to drive ambulances in some areas across the country as medical emergency calls surge due to the fast progression of COVID-19 infections.

In the city of Wuxi in East China's Jiangsu province, daily medical emergency calls had more than doubled to an average of 2,700 calls with around 480 ambulance trips dispatched per day, or 1.7 times the normal frequency last week, according to Xu Lipeng, an official with the city's emergency medical center, reported by Wuxi Daily.

The initial group of 10 of the city's bus drivers have joined the emergency medical center after completing their training.

In Ningbo, Zhejiang province, 290 drivers and maintenance workers for the city's public transport group are pitching in to help with emergency medical transport.

They have been trained in emergency medical workflow and the use of equipment onboard ambulances.

A total of 91 bus drivers in Zhejiang capital Hangzhou had also been providing emergency medical assistance by Dec 27, with each driver taking up to 20 calls and covering 200 to 300 kilometers per day on average, according to Hangzhou's public transport group.

Their training has covered cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of protective equipment and stretchers.

Pan Yimin, one of the drivers, carried a wheelchair-bound 90-year-old patient from a fifth-floor apartment with his partners. The building had no elevator and the staircases were too narrow for a stretcher.

"I cleared the first aider examination and take great care in emergencies, so that patients can reach hospitals rapidly and safely," Pan said.

Other drivers providing much-needed assistance in Hangzhou, such as bus driver Xue Hongqun, have even assisted doctors in carrying out cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

On his busiest day so far in providing emergency transport in Hangzhou, bus driver Wu Jiangao made 10 trips.

"We got the patients to the hospital, transferred them to the doctors and nurses and went straight on to the next place. There was almost no pause in between," he said.

Wu has also adjusted his driving style. "An ambulance is different from a bus. It is not restricted by the route, direction, speed or traffic lights as long as safety is ensured," he said.

In Tianjin, over 100 bus drivers have been trained to join the municipality's ambulance fleet.