Doctor to send ambulance to India

June 26, 1997


Staff Writer

RANSON, W.Va. - When Dr. S.P. Nayak travels back to his native India to visit his 80-year-old mother, his family tells him to stay off the roads.

Not only are the drivers dangerous and the road conditions hazardous, those injured in accidents frequently cannot get an ambulance to take them to a hospital.

"There's a limited number of ambulances and too many patients," Nayak said.

The Ranson, W.Va., orthopedic surgeon decided to do something about it. He purchased a used ambulance from the Independent Volunteer Fire Co. and is going to have it shipped to India.


Eventually, volunteers from the local fire company will follow to help train volunteers in Mangalore, India, how to serve as medics.

The volunteer ambulance service is going to be started by Prof. B.M. Hegde, dean of the Kasturba Medical College in Mangalore.

The city has a population of about one million people and is surrounded by about another million in the immediate area, said Nayak, 62.

The state-run hospitals have ambulances, but frequently in the remote villages, patients are loaded into the back of a truck and taken to a hospital, Nayak said.

The patients sometimes die or are more seriously injured by the trip, he said.

Nayak has followed Hegde's career and at a recent meeting they talked about the differences in the emergency medical systems.

Nayak said there are no volunteer medics in India. Nayak, a supporter of the local fire companies, said he touted the training the local volunteers receive in order to perform their duties, giving up their time to provide a service to others.

Nayak said Hegde was impressed and intends to start a volunteer company using the resources of the medical college.

Once Hegde gets approval from the state officials in India, the ambulance will be put on a freighter bound for the port city of Mangalore, Nayak said.

Nayak attended the medical school in the late 1950s, early 1960s.

After he moved to the United States, he was offered a job as a physician in Reston, Va. On the way there, he spent the night at the Cliffside Inn outside of Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

After interviewing at a hospital in Virginia, he passed back through Jefferson County, talked with people at Jefferson Memorial Hospital and decided to settle there.

"The place was so nice," Nayak said. A physician told him that he would make more money elsewhere.

"I told him I'm not looking for money, I'm looking for a good medical practice," Nayak said.

The ambulance cost him about $6,000.

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