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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: Task force’s sole female ambulance driver goes where others fear to tread

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, April 19, 2020   /   09:10 am
COVID-19: Task force’s sole female ambulance driver goes where others fear to tread Ika Dewi Maharani, the only female ambulance driver on the government’s COVID-19 task force, discusses volunteering in Jakarta. (BNPB/BNPB)

Nurse Ika Dewi Maharani knew when cases of COVID-19 started to climb that she needed to do something. While some might have thought twice about moving to Jakarta, the epicenter of the outbreak, Ika left her home in Surabaya, East Java, to volunteer in the battle against the deadly viral disease.

The North Maluku native is the only female ambulance driver on the National COVID-19 Task Force, a job that she considers necessary in these hard times.

 “[The task force] needs nurses for ambulances. I can drive, and I'm a nurse. My heart is calling to serve people,” Ika said during a virtual press briefing with the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) on Thursday.

She went to the front lines of the battle against the virus following calls from the government for more medical workers to care for patients.

She said this was her first experience as an ambulance driver, although she was a member of the Indonesian Emergency and Disaster Nurses Association (HIPGABI). While handling patients was part of her regular job, Ika said taking patients to hospitals in an emergency setting was a new challenge.

"All this time, I’ve known nurses help patients in the hospital. Driving an ambulance, however, is not as easy as I imagined,” she said, adding that the main challenge was when people on the road refused to give way to the ambulance.

Working for 12 hours a day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Ika said her safety and health were her main priority as she had to handle patients under surveillance (PDP) and confirmed COVID-19 patients.

She always wears full protective gear while working to ensure her own safety as well as that of the patients. Ika has also tried to maintain her health to make sure she is in the best condition to do her demanding task.

She said she was working her hardest on the task force and expressed hope that the crisis would end soon.

"I hope I can help make COVID-19 treatment faster and that the pandemic will be over,” she added.