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By Shanika Abdul Latib
MELAKA, June 11 -- A slightly noisy atmosphere greeted as the food trolley, pushed slowly by Mohd Sufia Abdul Manaf, went through a special door into Halls A and B of the Low-Risk COVID-19 Quarantine and Treatment Centres (PKRC) at the Melaka International Trade Centre (MITC) Ayer Keroh.
Although the task seems easy, this is only amongs other menial works in ensuring the smooth operation of PKRC at MITC and each patient’s comfort, primarily carried out by the Melaka Malaysian Civil Defence Force (APM) personnel as the State Disaster Management Secretariat.
For Mohd Sufia, even though he has been doing the task of bringing food to patients in both halls for 21 days, he still feels nervous given the various risks that he has to face once he enters the hall.
“The task is quite challenging because we have to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), which has somehow made breathing a little difficult for us, especially when we have to lift things. But we treat this as a given amanah (trust), so we will do our best, put our trust in God and reliance on Him alone,” he told Bernama recently.
The 33-year-old APM personnel, who hails from Kota Bharu, Kelantan, said that despite having to enter the risk zone every day, meeting up with patients who are always positive, especially children, drives his worry away.
“All the patients here are very cooperative and some of them even help us in distributing food. But, I really feel sorry for the children who have to be here, away from their parents.
“It’s sad but seeing their spirit and joy of meeting new friends healed my heart,” said Mohd Sufia, who had previously assigned for duty at hotels designated as quarantine stations.
On the preparations to enter the halls, Mohd Sufia, who has served for 10 years with the APM, said that he must be ready at least an hour before delivering the food.
He said that each time he is on duty, he would allocate between 15 and 20 minutes to wear the PPE, with the help of fellow staff members and medical personnel.
“It is not something new because I have also practiced the same procedure during my duty at other quarantine stations and the Sungai Udang PKRC previously. We have gotten used to the safety procedures set for those who have to work in high-risk areas.
“It is a bit different working at the MITC PKRC, as it has bigger halls and more patients. The security measures must be doubled,” he said.
Meanwhile, Melaka APM director, Lt Col (PA) Cuthbert John Martin Quadra said that since the pandemic hit the country in March last year, they are constantly learning new things every day, especially how to manage a large number of patients.
“With the current situation, including the opening of MITC PKRC and vaccination centres (PPVs) in the state, a total of 300 personnel have been tasked to work on a rotation basis according to the allocated schedule and venue,” he said.
For the MITC PKRC alone, he said at least 30 APM personnel have been assigned to work in three shifts daily starting at 8 am with their locations being at the patient reception counter, food distribution and in the secretariat operations room.
Of that number, Cuthbert said 13 were assigned in the red zone with eight of them in charge of delivering food into the halls which up till June 9, have housed 525 patients.
He said that APM personnel’s responsibility in ensuring the smooth operation of PKRCs and PPVs is becoming more challenging with the increasing number of patients and vaccine recipients every day.
“We are relieved that so far, there is no record of our members being infected with COVID-19 while being on duty, and we want this status to remain.
“This is also due to our meticulous way of working, and how we prioritise the standard operating procedures such as wearing PPE, cleaning our bodies after each shift and any interaction with patients. If one of us ‘falls’, it will not only affect our operations here, but also the mental health of other personnel,” he said.
Cuthbert said all Melaka APM personnel were ready to be deployed ahead of the opening of eight more PPVs in the state on June 16.
“We use the mentor-mentee system, whereby personnel with experience in manning any PPV station will teach other members. This will also save times to train personnel with less experience.
“The method also ensures that we will not experience difficulties in assigning personnel at any PPV throughout Melaka later,” he said, adding that the maximum number of APM personnel tasked at each PPV is 12.
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