‘Task Force Corona’, founded by Vaishali Poddar and 70 others, is providing help to corona patients since last year

In this unprecedented time, when thousands are losing their loved ones because of the deadly coronavirus, some individuals or non-government organisations have taken the charge, and are extending support to anyone and everyone through digital channels and otherwise.

It is heartwarming to see Indians getting united through social media and saving lives. The times are dark, but these people are like a ray of hope, a blessing in disguise, indeed!

Amongst them, there is a group of 70 people from all over India who have united to extend medical support to those finding help in finding hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, ventilators, medicines, food, and other essential resources.

“During the first lockdown, there were not many cases, and whenever anyone needed help nearby, I used to go by myself to provide food, ration, and medicines. We also connected with various volunteers from different areas in Delhi NCR and used to provide support on the ground,” said Poddar, who resides in Delhi, and is working remotely tirelessly.

In March 2021, the situation became grave and amid the entire population of more than 130 crore people, a lack of resources in the country is highly experienced. Be it the lack of medical facilities or the ‘lack of preparedness, as some may call it, this is not the time to play the ‘blame game,’ but to extend support to the needy. And this is what Task Force Corona is doing.

How is Task Force Corona dealing with the second wave?

Speaking about the second wave of Covid-19 and how they stepped up from the time, the state government imposed weekend lockdown in Delhi, Poddar said, “We understood that the situation in the country is now out of hands and hence our team stepped up and we connected with volunteers to help us verify the data circulated on social media about the medical resources.”

“We are now a team of 70 people and have divided ourselves into subgroups of 15 to 20 people each. Every group has a team lead that is a core team member and knows who to contact for support. One group is working on providing and refilling oxygen cylinders, the second group is working on Remdesivir, the third group is working on ICU and beds, and the last one to work on food, RT-PCR, and telephonic conversations with doctors.”

While the main team is in Delhi, ‘Task Force Corona’ is working remotely to tackle requests from all over the country. They also help in verifying all the numbers that are being circulated on social media, besides directly providing help to the needy.

“We compile the data on social media from the government as well as non-governmental sources and verify each number before responding to our queries.”

Tie-ups with Administration

Hospitals in the country are facing a shortage of oxygen, beds, ICUs, and Covid-19 medicines. Amid this grave shortage, the Task Force Corona team is trying their level best to make sure they solve the queries of people. They call hospitals themselves and try to resolve the queries at any point in time.

The team has also tied up with administrators in Delhi NCR to reach more and more people around the city.

On April 22, Cop Arun Bothra sent out a tweet that had a query for oxygen cylinders. As soon as Poddar and her team got to know about the tweet, they extended support, and the needy were served with oxygen cylinders in no time.

Later, Bothra thanked Poddar and her team for extending support at the odd hours.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Lakshay Pandey works with the team in distributing medical supplies to the needy.

Recalling an incident when Pandey distributed the supplies to the slum areas with a note, “AAPKI JAAN HAMARE LIYE KEEMTI HAI”, Poddar said that this is also part of their motive to help the poor and the needy with medical so that they can stay immune to the virus.

The team is also in touch with several Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) in Delhi so that the work can be managed more effectively.

On-ground help in Delhi NCR

While Task Force Corona is available 24*7, the situation becomes overwhelming at times because of extensive calls, day and night. Hence, their strategy is based on ‘One Person One Query’ i.e., an individual can raise only one query until it gets resolved.

Besides severe cases, people are also facing problems fetching resources at home if all the family members are corona positive. Task Force Corona has also undertaken this issue and one of their team members in Delhi Ankush Periwal is working on the ground. He provides food, medicines, sanitizers, and other essential resources at the doorstep of the needy.

The team is also planning to start a facility of refilling oxygen cylinders for those who cannot afford to buy the cylinders, which range from Rs 12,000 to Rs 20,000. The idea is still in process.

Sleepless nights, draining emotions but staying strong

While serving the needy brings joy if the purpose is fulfilled, it is not all rosy. The work is emotionally and mentally draining. There are times when we are not able to provide help in time and things slip out of hand. At those times, it is hard, said Poddar.

“Every day, we encounter hundreds of calls, reply to tweets, and follow up on Whatsapp, contact hospitals, and volunteers. At times, we feel extremely disheartened and disturbed when we are unable to provide help in time and the patient succumbs to Covid-19. However, as a team, we keep each other motivated, take breaks and manage among ourselves, because we can’t break down completely. We have a responsibility on our shoulders,” she said.

Indeed, while holding their emotions in tight control and keeping intact their zeal to fight the fatal virus to its logical end, Task Force Corona is an answer to those who fight for life in the dark alley of death and destruction.

(Task Force Corona is a team of 70, and some of the main members include Ankush Periwal, Ram Mittal, Sumedha Mridul, Madhuri, Inesha, Abhishek, and Jaspreet. )