Forest guards play an indispensable role in protecting our forest habitats and species that WWF-India strives to conserve. Their job involves patrolling vast swathes of often-inhospitable terrain with bare minimum protection and hardly any access to emergency medical facilities in case of any severe mishaps or illnesses suffered while on-job.
In an effort to address such concerns and provide immediate medical relief and support, WWF-India and Apollo Hospitals have announced a one-year partnership for these forest guards. The partnership will entail providing treatment and recovery support for frontline staff in case of a medical emergency, while on field. This support will be provided in 10 priority landscapes where WWF-India is actively working along with the state forest departments of Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.
A partnership announcement by the two organizations covers superior quality medical treatment of patients on a first-come-first-serve basis. The services made available to the forest staff would also include air ambulance and other emergency medical rescue services. For other cases, WWF-India and the state forest departments involved will admit the sick/injured staff to the nearest Apollo Hospital or its franchisee at their own expense.
This unique partnership will cover medical cases including (but not restricted to) grievous injury due to attacks by wild animals; fall from elevated areas (like hills or machans); accidents while patrolling in vehicles (collision, falling off etc); burns during fire-fighting operations; bullet/sharp weapon injuries inflicted by poachers; injuries inflicted by people during mob control when handling cases of human-wildlife conflict ; life threatening diseases like malaria, dengue etc; venomous bites/stings , and electrocution.
The partnership represents a significant milestone in ensuring the welfare of the frontline staff. Appreciating the initiative, Mr. Samir Sinha, IFS, Chief Conservator of Forest and Field Director, Corbett Tiger Reserve, said, “Programs such as this are essential to the morale of the frontline staff, and for their continued welfare. We welcome this novelinitiative by WWF-India and Apollo Hospitals."
WWF-India aims to explore several such opportunities wherein processes and policies can be put in place to benefit forest staff across the country. "Our frontline personnel are an important part of the conservation family, and are willing to put their lives on line to protect our wildlife. Their efforts and sacrifice must not go unnoticed. We welcome this partnership with Apollo Hospitals which will boost their morale and empower them", said Mr. Ravi Singh, WWF-India Secretary General and CEO. Ms Upasana Kamineni, Vice Chairperson , CSR at Apollo Hospitals Group said: “We at Apollo Hospitals group understand the perils that these frontline staff go through and we are always there to support them and are happy to help conserve our wildlife".