Ride-hailing platform Ola on Tuesday announced the launch of 'Ola Emergency' to enable riders to book non-COVID-19 medical trips, which do not require an ambulance, to over 200 hospitals in Bengaluru. The service has been launched in collaboration with the Karnataka Health Ministry, and the company is looking at expanding the category in other major cities soon.
"'Ola Emergency' is available in Bengaluru starting today with a network of cars that are equipped with masks and sanitizers and will be operated by specially trained drivers," Ola said in a statement.
To book an ‘Ola Emergency’ cab, users 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.
"Ola has enabled over 200 hospitals on its app to provide the service and ensure cabs are used only for essential medical travel. The service will be available across Bengaluru and is slated to soon launch in other major cities," the statement said.
B Sriramulu, Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka said after the lockdown, all 108 ambulances are being used for COVID-19.
"To ensure citizens are not troubled, Ola has come forward and will transport people with all cases of medical trips and emergencies that are non-ambulatory (does not require ambulance) in nature from their homes to the hospital and vice versa, 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," he said.
Ola is working with the authorities to ensure all drivers and cars are equipped with essential protective equipment like masks and sanitizers, and will ensure the service is used only for medical travel that is non-COVID-19 and non-ambulatory (does not require ambulance) in nature like dialysis, chemotherapy, scheduled check-ups and physical injuries among others, the statement noted.
Customers will be charged a nominal fare to compensate driver-partners for their services, it added.
"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," an Ola spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added that the company will continue to collaborate with the Centre and state governments to provide mobility solutions for essential travel and make similar services available in more cities soon.
Last week, Ola had collaborated with the Karnataka government and stakeholders like the Corona Task Force, to help ferry senior citizens in need of medical support across Bangalore, and Hubli-Dharwad.