People, not numbers: the ambulance driver who worked to the end – People
Yohana Belinda (The Jakarta Post)
Mon 22 November 2021
The large number of deaths from COVID-19 made it easy to forget that behind the statistics lie lived stories of individuals who could and should have continued. In “People, not numbers”, Jakarta Post remembers their lives through the eyes of those who knew them best.
Mas Alil Arof was an ambulance driver at the Medokan Ayu Health Center in Surabaya, East Java. He has been the main driver of the center since the start of the pandemic.
Died at the age of 43 on October 6, 2020, Mas Alil’s name was added to the list of health workers who died from COVID-19.
Putting aside his own pre-existing health issues – which included asthma and hypertension – he focused on doing the best job possible, even with the threat COVID-19 posed to his own mortality.
Ambulance drivers have been among the most essential workers during this pandemic. Not only are they responsible for ensuring patients are transported correctly and safely, but they also have a responsibility to get COVID-19 patients to hospital on time.
LaporCOVID-19, a community initiative helping Indonesians report COVID-19 issues, reported that Indonesia has lost more than 1,000 health workers. The sheer number of fatalities in the sector shows the vulnerability of workers in the performance of their duties. One reason for the high tally is the undermining of health protocols.
The head of his family
Mas Alil (“Mas” is part of his name and not the Javanese term commonly attributed to older men) is survived by his wife Supini, 39, and two sons.
Supini expressed how hard it was to lose someone without saying goodbye to them. “I was devastated when Mas Alil fell ill because I couldn’t take care of him, accompany him or visit him. Unfortunately, acceptance is easier said than done, “she told the To post July 27.
Supini remembers falling in love with Mas Alil as soon as she met him. “He was so caring, I immediately knew he was going to be my Imam, I always felt safe around him because he could be my protector.”
Although Mas Alil spent most of his waking hours driving an ambulance, he always made sure to save weekends for family time. Before the pandemic, the family would take trips by bicycle or drive to Mount Bromo.
In the front line: Mas Alil while on duty as an ambulance driver (left) with a front line from the Medokan Ayu health center. (Courtesy of Supini) (Personal collection / Courtesy of Supimi)
Supini explained that her husband was a person who was willing to “sacrifice anything” to keep his family happy,
Mas Alil also instilled the importance of religious values in his two sons. “He was such a responsible father. He never forgot to teach religious values. He also taught the children to recite the Koran, ”Supini recalls. “Unfortunately, reciting the Quran has become a less frequent routine for children after the death of their father.”
His sacrifice for the benefit of society deprived Mas Alil of the chance to see his sons grow up. “I just want Mas Alil to be remembered as a good person who gave his life for the good of the community. He was the husband of my dreams.” It is not uncommon for Mas Alil to leave messages from his work to remind his two boys to study and pray diligently.
His colleagues also had fond memories of Mas Alil, Supini said.
“I have heard many stories from many of his friends that they are now ready to share. Mas Alil was known as a generous person by his friends, and he also reminded his friends to share with others.”
“He hardly complained about his job,” Supini said of her husband’s attitude towards work.
Being an ambulance driver is not easy. During the first wave of COVID-19 in Indonesia, the area served by Mas Alil was severely affected. As the first paramedic at the health center where he worked, he had important responsibilities.
Verry Andri Widiyanto, 40, a friend of his who also works as an ambulance driver, recalled how difficult it was for Mas Alil to fight the pandemic.
“He asked me for help because there weren’t many ambulance drivers in the area. Although the health center where I work did not receive as many calls as the one at Mas Alil, I knew that it took a lot of perseverance for the job. Prior to his passing we had a brief chat and this is the last time I spoke to him.
Verry adds: “Mas Alil was a good person who loved to help his friends. There are a lot of good things I can say about him.”
Mas Alil worked as an ambulance driver for 11 years.
“I hope that many people understand that this disease exists and adhere to health protocols because I have lost a member of my family,” urged Supini.