Amazon's Covid Warriors help people with resources as second wave rages

At Amazon, employees have stepped up to help colleagues in need, and what began as heartfelt individual offers of assistance has turned into a full-fledged cause.

Amazon India’s ‘Covid Warriors’ are helping colleagues and the community with critical resources amidst the medical emergency that has accompanied the country's second Covid-19 surge.


In the midst of Rashmi's mother's battle with Covid-19 at a Mumbai hospital, authorities asked her family to make their own arrangements for oxygen as the facility was running out of stock. In Bengaluru, Prashant faced a similar race against time as he desperately tried to hunt down oxygen concentrators for his father, who had not been able to get a hospital bed and was fighting the virus at home. For Abhishek, based in the US, the emergency and anxiety spanned continents as he sought oxygen support for his father-in-law in Delhi.


For each of these Amazon employees (names changed), it was a colleague – an Amazon Covid Warrior – who stepped in to help.


As a second, deadlier wave of Covid-19 engulfs India, workplaces around the country have turned into a melting pot of emotions, from distress to despondence. At Amazon, employees have stepped up to help colleagues in need, and what began as heartfelt individual offers of assistance has turned into a full-fledged cause. A dedicated group of Covid Warriors who are reaching out to offer aid and collaborate across the country to support those who require urgent medical help.


The team works round the clock and directly with HR and Benefits teams, ready to go above and beyond their call of duty to support colleagues, their families, and friends. From helping to find hospital beds, plasma donors, ambulances and isolation centres, to addressing queries on claims, insurance, leave and salary advances, these warriors are doing everything it takes to help fellow Amazonians and their loved ones.


“A big shout-out to all Amazonians acting as Covid Warriors -- truly inspired by so many stories of compassion and grit as they help their colleagues and their families in every possible way, even saving lives,”  Amit Agarwal, global senior vice president and country head, Amazon India, tweeted on Friday.


The group now spans 18 cities and is made up of over 600 volunteers, with a plan to offer support in an additional 11 cities soon. These city bands work together to ensure a coordinated response for those in need across Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. The other cities include Trivandrum, Chandigarh, Coimbatore, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Mangalore, Indore, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow, Jaipur and Salem. Each city’s warrior band has a leader, a clear operating model, and rosters with a division of responsibilities and duty shifts. This decentralized framework is braced with central support from subject matter experts in HR, Employee Benefits, Compliance, and other departments. They share regular updates and drive process improvements based on the Warriors’ feedback.


“Our employees are coming together to selflessly help each other in this time of crisis,” said Deepti Varma, director, human resources, Amazon India.Amazon India has enormous collective strength as a community, and the Covid Warriors programme is leveraging the strength and support from fellow colleagues to fight together.”


Beyond the messages of gratitude, there are spirit-lifting outcomes. One Covid Warrior shared a story of a man from Noida with a severe Covid infection, whose oxygen levels had fallen below 70. His wife had exhausted all her options in hunting for hospitals with available beds and had reached out to Covid Warriors in desperation. The warrior who took her call kicked off a frantic search for hospital beds, calling on personal contacts for help. After trying non-stop for over two hours, the warrior found a Customer Service colleague in Delhi who managed to convince a hospital to send an ambulance. The patient is now recovering well.


Amazon has also joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Task Force to bring in ventilators to help India combat Covid-19. These include 1,000 Medtronic ventilators to be delivered to India. Amazon is fully funding the first lot of 100 ventilators. They will be sent to the hospitals with the most urgent needs.


Amazon in collaboration with USIBC is working with NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), who are defining the distribution plan for these ventilators.


Amazon had also announced that it is sponsoring the supply of 100 ICU ventilator units costing  $3.8 million from the US.

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