In the midst of Rashmi's* mother's battle with COVID-19 at a Mumbai hospital, the authorities asked her family to make their own arrangements for oxygen as the facility was running out of stock. In Bangalore, 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, it was a colleague – an Amazon COVID Warrior – who stepped in to help.
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. Thank you! #StayStrongIndia— Amit Agarwal (@AmitAgarwal) May 7, 2021
A helping hand at a critical time
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.
Meet Amazon’s COVID Warriors
The group now spans 30 cities and is made up of over 900 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, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Trivandrum, Chandigarh, Coimbatore, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Mangalore, Indore, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow, Jaipur, Salem to name a few. 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, who share regular updates and drive process improvements based on the Warriors’ feedback.
Amazon India has an enormous collective strength as a community, and the COVID Warriors program is leveraging the strength and support from fellow colleagues to fight together.
“Displaying their quintessential Amazonian spirit, our employees are coming together to selflessly help each other in this time of crisis,” said Deepti Varma, Director, Human Resources, Amazon India. She added: “Amazon India has enormous collective strength as a community, and the COVID Warriors program is leveraging the strength and support from fellow colleagues to fight together.”
Bringing in a ray of hope
The Warriors' efforts have cast a ray of light on these gloomy times, and messages of gratitude have streamed in from employees who have received their help. One such message from Ali, an employee in the UK, read: “Thank you for your tremendous response. My mother told me how kind and supportive the whole team has been. [My parents] are all alone, so this support by Amazonians means a lot." Another from Ayesha in Jaipur said: “Thank you so much team for this. This really means a lot! Our family really appreciates this help in these tough times.”
Beyond the messages of gratitude, there are the 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. "With God's grace and after trying non-stop for over two hours, I found a Customer Service colleague in Delhi who managed to convince a hospital to send an ambulance! Thankfully, the patient is now recovering well.”
*Names changed to protect privacy.
Wall of gratitude
As our COVID Warriors continue helping others in these challenging times, we're honouring them with few more messages of gratitude:
“I just want to personally thank you and your team for all the help that you have done to get me an oxygen concentrator in this time of emergency. I can only imagine all the challenges you and the team went through to enable this for me and my family. I have been discharged from the hospital yesterday and am recovering at home in isolation now. I am truly indebted to all the efforts that the team is doing for Amazonians everywhere. Hopefully, I will be back on my feet in a week’s time and I can try to repay some of the debt to your team. Do let me know if I can be of any help in Ahmedabad.”
“Team, really wanted to thank all of you and the COVID Warriors for the help yesterday night – I know we are all seeing it in the newspapers but when it hits close you suddenly realize the helplessness in this situation – the only other alternative (oxygen cylinders the doc said no to due to safety concerns and not that sourcing that would also be easy) would have been a lengthy night in a hospital trying to get her a bed. Thanks to your actions, she is at home close to her loved ones and her oxygen levels are stable with the support of the machine. Owe you guys one for the help in such a difficult situation.”