Ariful Islam, a Covid-19 patient from Narayandahar village in Netrokona's Purbadhala upazila, who had been infected with the virus for several days, suddenly had difficulty breathing at around 1am.
Desperate and helpless, a relative of the patient called the helpline of "Songjog: Connecting People", a local voluntary organisation.
First, a Songjog medical team member provided immediate medical advice over the phone. Then within an hour, two young volunteer members of the organisation arrived at the patient's house on a motorcycle with an oxygen cylinder.
This is how Songjog's prompt response saved Ariful Islam's life, with his condition stabilising after several hours of oxygen supply.
Six young men – Maksudul Hasan, Sheikh Oli Ahmed, Azharul Islam, Mir Mehedi Hasan, Md Khairul Islam and Faisal Ahmed – took the initiative to save people's life and launched Songjog as a voluntary organisation. Some of them are university students, some are involved in business, and they have been providing emergency medical services in Netrokona to Covid-19 patients.
Previously, they were part of a blood donating group , "Roktodane Netrokona", said
Maksudul Hasan, one of the initiators of Songjog that has provided oxygen services to 24 Covid-19 patients in Netrokona so far.
" "Songjog: Connecting People", has a medical team that provides medical advice over the telephone. Patients with Covid-19 can call us at any time for medical advice. We provide oxygen services if the medical team advises our oxygen team to do so," he added.
Azharul Islam, another member of the organisation, said, "So far, we have provided 10 oxygen cylinders to patients. However, that number is very low considering the high demand now due to the rapidly rising case of infections in recent days."
He said that as a very small organisation their capacity is hardly adequate to help most of patients in the district. He has requested local government hospitals to refill their empty oxygen cylinders as much as possible so they can provide more and better service to the community.
"It seems that more people need to participate in such voluntary work," he added.
There are costs involved in the service that they are providing and they charge well off patients to supplement their costs. However, if the patient's family is poor, they provide their services free of charge.
Members of the organisation do not take any remuneration for their time and labour, and they take all precautions like wearing PPE, face shields, and masks, before going to a patient.
Local people praise the initiative of the organisation saying that they are saving lives in a tough situation amid the pandemic.
Sohrab Uddin Akand of Nikhilnath Road in Netrokona Sadar, said, "A week ago, Deep, a university student, started having severe respiratory problems in our neighbourhood late at night. It was not possible to take him to the hospital as we had no transport available to us. His relatives were terrified. When they contacted Songjog, their volunteers walked about three kilometres and brought us oxygen cylinders. The boy's life was saved due to Sonjog and the courageous service of their volunteers."
Members of the organisation say they are trying to provide the same services in other districts too, contacting local volunteers there.