A viral video of a PPE kit-attired nurse sitting hunched over - apparently in a state of extreme fatigue brought on by exertion and heat about a year back - just about described the toil, dedication and integrity of our frontline COVID warriors while serving patients round the clock.
Like this unnamed nurse who spends 10 to 12 hours almost every day in a PPE kit, there are many who have sacrificed happier times to serve humanity and also risk their lives to be in the firing line of an invisible virus.
Many of these corona warriors have also got infected with the contagion while extending their much-needed services.
There is another moving instance of Trishna Patwari, a nurse at Guwahati Medical College and Hospital who fainted while taking care of COVID-19 infected patients. Trishna, who was in a PPE kit for several hours amidst the heat and humidity of July last year, couldn't regain her senses for some time.
Recalling her "trials and tribulations" with a sense of satisfaction, Dashami Kalita, an auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM), currently posted at the Kharghuli state dispensary, says: "During the first wave last year, we had to face a lot of challenges during odd hours."
"Apart from burning midnight oil, and then again slogging several hours next day, we also had to make door-to-door visits to make people aware of the dos and don'ts, and track infected people who come from outside the city or state. Such a rigorous exercise apart from our routine duty took a toll on our health as well," the Noonmati resident says.
"The sacrifice, pain and torment apart, the extra duty prompted by two waves of COVID so far gives me a sense of satisfaction…..that we have sacrificed family time to serve humanity in times of crisis, as frontline warriors."The house-tracking drill is followed upon receiving official information about infected people coming from outside.
"There is another challenge here of dealing with people who do not want to cooperate. While many understand and follow instructions, there are others who do not want to admit that they have been infected. We found such instances in some apartments here. However, as opposed to city areas, I am told, the task is easier in the rural areas where people know each other better," she says.
Dashami, who was also posted at the COVID Care Centre at Maniram Dewan Trade Centre at Betkuchi for some time last year, was a tad fortunate though.
"Many of my colleagues posted at GMCH had to wear PPE kits across shifts, which was energy sapping, particularly in the summer months. But yes, I had to be very careful while being with my family members after a day or night's toil. The risk of infection is always there but we ensure that the protocols are strictly followed," she says.
Asked to narrate her experience in a nutshell, "The sacrifice, pain and torment apart, the extra duty prompted by two waves of COVID so far gives me a sense of satisfaction…..that we have sacrificed family time to serve humanity in times of crisis, as frontline warriors."
And with a third wave looming, where children, for whom a COVID vaccine is yet to be approved, are the most vulnerable, COVID warriors like Dashami, Trishna and many more, will have to keep rendering their invaluable services.
"We hope things improve further. As of now, we are primarily engaged in vaccination duty. But we are ready for more challenges if at all there is another wave," she adds.