Sunday, May 9, 2021
Home Opinions “Somebody had to do it, then why not me”, account of a ‘liquidator of...

“Somebody had to do it, then why not me”, account of a ‘liquidator of Corona’ participating in Coronavirus screening conducted by RSS and ABVP

When armed with thermal gun, Pulse-Oxygen meter, sanitizer spray and charts for documentations, how can one not feel like a soldier ready to face the enemy

“Somebody had to do it”, said Alexander Fedotov who was part of the largest ever response team trying to contain radiation after the meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the April of 1986. And this is what I reply to everyone who asks me why I spent a week on the Coronavirus frontline. Named ‘liquidators’ meaning ‘to eliminate something that causes problems’, these response teams contained the deadly radiation leak which threatened the very existence of mankind. Volunteering with the efforts of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to screen patients made me feel like a ‘liquidator of Corona’.

As the wave of Coronavirus swept our nation, the need to establish a response team to aid the authorities in testing was felt by many. Already on the ground zero with its various Seva activities, RSS fashioned the first ‘Liquidators of Corona’ to answer the need. First pilot ran through the at-risk settlements in Pune, screening 1,02,450 patients with the help of 365 doctors & 1016 Swayamsevaks. Work expanded to Mumbai as Parle west became the headquarters for the Mumbai effort. Coordinating six batches till today, Mumbai effort has expanded into three more branches headquartered in Marol, Malad and Mulund. Working with local authorities such as BMC and Health Ministry, teams of 500 liquidators have screened over 70,000 patients in Mumbai’s various containment zones and red zones.

Unlike the Liquidators of Chernobyl, many of whom were ordered by the government to join the cleanup effort, we are all volunteers. Hailing from diverse backgrounds, such as teachers, accountants, medical students, engineers, lawyers, photographers and whatnot, ready to take on the challenge of the uncomfortable weather, the claustrophobic gear, the crammed surroundings and mammoth number of patients. When mega screening campaign of Dharavi on the first Sunday of the Junewas announced, many like me volunteered. We had already completed our field work, but we came out of quarantine and delayed our tests to help out in screening largest slum in Asia.

Read- Serving the people of Bharat when they need it the most: Here is why the Left is left behind

Every batch receives a thorough orientation, teaching us about how to don and doff the PPE, what are we supposed to do once in the field. But no amount of preparation can keep one calm for when you are donning the battle gear known as PPE for the first time. Imagine, you rub a dab of sanitizer on your hand, now come the gloves, rubbery and sticky followed by foot covers rising shin high. Then another round of sanitizer on hands, followed by putting on the overall hooded jumpsuit zipped and secured with belts. Sanitizing our hands again we pull our sleeves down to put on another pair of gloves making sure our wrists are not exposed. Now comes the outer disposable mask atop the N95 we wore at all times. Put up your glasses, pull up your hoody making sure your forehead is covered then topping it off with the face shield.

And when armed with thermal gun, Pulse-Oxygen meter, sanitizer spray and charts for documentations, how can one not feel like a soldier ready to face the enemy. The layering of the masks and face shield meant scuffing wounds behind our ears, which paired with hot and humid conditions-built condensation on our specs and face shields limiting our visibility with bonus of irritation. But the soldier spirit inspired us to fashion makeshift solutions like applying coconut oil behind our ears to avoid scuffing and wearing specs loose and a centimetre down on the nose to avoid condensation.

Our day used to start early, getting up, having preventive medicine like arsenic album, some prayers followed by Pranayama gets things moving. Having breakfast in our rooms, everyone starts getting ready for the field. Hydration is the key to perform because as soon as you put on the PPE, a reverse countdown of five hours begins as having even a drop of water is impossible till out of the PPE, sanitized and bathed at the end of the shift. Everyone assembles in preparation area sitting together, each 3 feet apart for the morning briefing. Then we are updated on the target locality, potential difficulties and special precautions. This planning in advance and planning in detail is the secret of our efficiency. As the briefing concludes, everyone races to don the PPE following its procedure to the t, while helping and looking after teammates to be ready. The equipment to be carried in the field are inspected, restocked and then the we march towards the buses.

Read- RSS in the times of Coronavirus: How RSS and its Swayamsevaks surrender themselves to the service of this nation

Once on the field, the teams of three-consisting two volunteers and one medico – reach the table and immediately start the screening as the local volunteers go door to door to bring the patients in a queue. One volunteer checks temperature and Blood oxygenation levels while another takes it down along with patients contact details and general medical history. Doctors look for symptoms and counsel the patients about COVID19 guidelines. Looking for symptoms, identifying high risk individuals, referring symptomatic suspects to authorities and documenting every patient, the liquidators usually do 4-5 hour shifts each day.

The process of screening for Coronavirus which does not involve taking samples or testing patients is a double-edged sword. In the absence of abundant testing, screening ‘Eliminates’ patients form the suspect pool and maps those at high risk helping authorities in their testing efforts. The screening also serves as a tool of awareness which is far necessary in the times of hysteria and misinformation surrounding the pandemic. Simple reiteration of guidelines by a doctor works miracle to de-stigmatize patients. And I think that is the biggest success of this campaign. Being advised about pandemic guidelines by a human being instead of a blaring faceless loudspeaker helps ease the fear of the Coronavirus pandemic and believe me half the battle is won there. People become more open, approachable, honest in discussing their symptoms and readily accept help.

I have seen a man fearful of being taken away into quarantine, bring his whole family for screening once his doubts were cleared by our ever-enthusiastic medico. In the era of mass confusion and hysteria, we served as a bridge between the authorities and patients. Screening over 24000 households, over 70,000 patients and identifying 924 suspects, I feel humbled and proud to have gotten the opportunity to serve my nation in the past week. Perfecting what Fedotov said with the ‘first person singular approach’ of an ABVP activist, somebody had to do it, then why not me?

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Eshaan Ganpule
Law Graduate | Nomad | Student Activist | Writer | Non Believer | Proud Nationalist

Related Articles

Trending now

Netizens call out actor Sonu Sood’s claims of arranging for plasma, bed for COVID patients

After multiple media reports and social media posts on how Sonu Sood was helping out migrants go back home last year amid the nationwide lockdown, Sood had written an autobiography, 'I am no no messiah'.

Here is how The Lancet used dubious sources to blame Modi Govt for the Covid crisis

Following the abrogation of Article 370, The Lancet had issued a strong condemnation of the Indian Government.

Indian diaspora protests against West Bengal post-poll violence in UK, Canada, Australia and United States

"The State machinery is failing the people of West Bengal as the Hindus are subjected to killings, rapes, and exodus from their homeland," a protestor said.

Prashant Kishor to fire 85 percent of his IPAC staff after Bengal election victory, may start a political career in Bihar: Report

Only the core 100-150 people will be retained to carry out political strategising work that Prashant Kishor ked IPAC does.

Himanta Biswa Sarma elected as next Chief Minister of Assam after BJP legislative party meeting

Himanta Biswa Sarma was proposed as the next Chief Minister by outgoing CM Sarbandana Sonowal in the legislative party meeting

China’s ‘out-of-control’ rocket debris disintegrates over the Indian Ocean, lands near the Maldives

Notably, the rocket which is uncontrollably falling back to Earth is the same space module whose launch was gloated upon by a Chinese Communist Party body to mock India's handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Recently Popular

Meet AAP’s ‘Delhi ke Nirmata’: Who is Navneet Kalra, the businessman on the run after oxygen hoarding scandal was busted

Oxygen Concentrators have been found at Khan Chacha, Nege & Ju bar and Town Hall restaurants in Delhi, all owned by Navneet Kalra

Arvind Kejriwal govt expels 7 journalists from Whatsapp group after report critical of govt handling of oxygen crisis, senior journalists keep mum

The Arvind Kejriwal government has been the darling of the media for a long time but it seems to want absolute devotion

Comedian Sanket Bhosale who had featured in ad mocking Rahul Gandhi booked for violating Covid-19 norms in Punjab

A week after the vandalism by the Congress workers in Mumbai, the Congress-led Punjab government has now booked comedian Sanket Bhosale, the actor featured in the advertisement, on the pretext of violating Covid-19 regulations during his wedding.

Chinese research paper, published 6 years ago by Chinese military backed authors, discussed weaponising Coronavirus: Reports

A 2015 research paper by Chinese scientists reveals nefarious plans to weaponise the SARS Coronavirus against the world.

‘Dominance of one religious group cannot prevent religious celebrations of other’, says Madras HC after local Muslims object to Hindu procession

The Madras High court concluded that similar acts of 'resistance' by other religious groups would result in loss of lives, destruction of properties, riots, religious fights and chaos.

Subramaniam Swamy calls S Jaishankar a ‘waiter’ and says he tested positive for COVID: Netizens fume, EAM clarifies

Subramanian Swamy stoked controversy after he targeted Dr S Jaishankar by referring to him as a 'waiter' and claiming he was COVID positive
- Advertisement -


Connect with us