In seconds after getting a call, Ganesh and Prashanth - frontline workers in the fight against coronavirus in Kerala - start donning their Personal Protection Equipment. Within minutes, two more men rush into the same room to change into their PPEs. These men, working round the clock, are a part of COVID-19 ambulance emergency response teams in the state.
"We are going to a quarantine centre. Someone there needs to be taken to a hospital for swab collection. I have been on this duty for three days. I work cumulatively for a few days before returning to my family. I am proud to be a part of this team", Mr Ganesh, a technician with the emergency response team said.
The ambulance team plays a crucial role in the COVID-19 battle, rushing people to hospitals and other places from airports, railway stations and quarantine centres on directions of health officials and district-level COVID war rooms.
"Whenever we are on duty with COVID-19 suspects, we ensure we take precautions, wear PPE kits and masks. If a patient tests positive, we return to our families only after staying away for 3-4 days as a precaution", Rajiv, one of the members of the ambulance team, told NDTV.
However, with dues pending for months, these men are finding it difficult to make ends meet.
"We are ready to work round the clock. But, we want our salaries on time. These are not big amounts. Rs 10,000- Rs 25,000. We haven't got our April salary so far. We have partial pending dues since January onwards. It's hard for us to continue like this," said Shankar, one of the members.
"We don't want to protest right now because it's an emergency situation due to COVID-19, but it's very hard on us and our families", Mr Prashanth, an ambulance pilot said.
There are 108 such ambulances in the state out of around 15,0000 operated around the country by GVK EMRI - a company providing emergency medical services.
A company source said the payments haven't been processed due to fund issues.
"We have not paid salaries for April due to fund issues. Partial funds for January, February, March are also awaited. We are expecting government funds by next week".