We interviewed Kavya PK about what prompted her to volunteer as a Covid Ninja and what she has taken from the experience.
Q: Why did you volunteer?
A: Witnessing the pandemic unfold especially during the second wave was heartbreaking on many levels. While staying safe at home tuning out the numbers on the news was something that I did for a long time, there was always this question at the back of my mind wondering how I could help, even if it was in a small manner. That’s when a friend of mine told me about the initiative of the Covid Bed Task Force (CBTF), and Reap Benefit’s contribution to the same, and that I could help out even from home. It was something I wanted to do for a while and when I’d finally gotten the chance, I did not hesitate to volunteer.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about your role?
The volunteers were divided into two groups, handling either Bed Requests or Bed Searches.
The Bed Request team was involved in entering incoming bed requests from all accessible platforms (including social media, other contacts, and request groups) into the CBTF database. This was executed by accurately entering the received patient details in an ordered format through a chatbot deployed on WhatsApp.
The Bed Search team, on the other hand, monitored the CBTF Database and resolved pending bed requests as they came in. The process involved the following steps:
- Contacting the patient’s attender to verify patient details and preferred hospital type
- Connecting them to a doctor for medical assessment and determining the type of bed they required.
- Registering the case with 108 or 1912 if the case had not been registered.
- Contacting private hospitals in nearby locations to check for bed availability.
- Following up with 1912 and the patient on a regular basis till the patient received the bed.
Reap Benefit handled three main zones in Bangalore — East, West, and Bommanahalli. The team consisted of a group of 20 active volunteers, with 6 on the Bed Request team and 14 on the Bed Search team, working in shifts of 2 or 3 throughout the day. We received quick and diligent responses from the leads of the team for any queries and immense support from the doctors on call.
Q: What kind of impact has volunteering had on you?
A: Working on the Covid Bed Task Force gave us a clearer picture of the problems people were dealing with: lack of beds, difficulties patients experienced in getting assistance in a time of absolute panic. The well-organized construction of the entire process along with good communication between volunteers led to effective, on-time responses to all incoming requests.
In addition to this, being able to help a few among the many, many people who have suffered during this pandemic has created a definitive impact on our mindsets and perhaps expanded our understanding of the many ways we could reach people even without being physically present. There were heart wrenching moments when patients we were talking to did not make it, and to witness their loss firsthand was probably some of the hardest things we’ve had to do. However, those moments helped us remember the majority of patients we were able to help, and the feeling of closing a request on a good note is something that none of us would forget. The positive impact of this initiative and the organization is one that is impossible to ignore.
Q: What was one change you observed while volunteering?
The CBTF database reflected the number of cases on a general basis — some days saw a large number of requests, and towards the end of May, requests substantially decreased. This was a positive observation and indicated that the reach of the initiative has been in the right direction. Also, commendable efforts were put in by those leading the team, and by doctors supporting the initiative, and this helped volunteers handle requests and see them to completion.