Nguyễn Minh Quân transports an oxygen cylinder. — Photo zing.vn
HCM CITY — Nguyễn Minh Quân quickly packs up his personal belongings and hands over his work to the next shift at 10pm. It's been a long day.
Quân, a 20-year-old student, is one of five volunteers who were sent to HCM City's Tropical Diseases Hospital by the city's Youth Union to support the Pharmacy Department.
Every day, Quân and his colleagues transport oxygen cylinders to COVID-19 patients and collect the used tanks.
After an 8-hour shift, his arms and shoulder muscles are tired from carrying the heavy cylinders.
"I'll work at the hospital from 1pm to 10pm,"he says. "The work is hard and there is the potential risk of infection from an F0, but I'm very happy because I have the opportunity to give back to the community," Quân told zing.vn.
Previously, he had worked as a volunteer supporting pandemic prevention works in the city at pandemic checkpoints, quarantine zones and vaccination sites.
Quân wants to support the frontline force more even though it has become much riskier.
"I have good health. I have already received a COVID-19 vaccine so I immediately signed up for the oxygen transport group at the hospital. My family are very worried for me, but they all support my work for the community", he said.
Trần Nam Anh, the group's co-ordinator, told zing.vn his team was established when the hospital requested support.
"In order to support the oxygen transportation force at the hospital, we selected five young people who meet the health criteria and have a sense of responsibility," he said.
Anh said that these volunteers had to participate in an urgent training session and worked with the hospital's staff.
Volunteers are on duty for eight to 12 hours a day. There are 6-7 people in each shift, including volunteers and hospital staff. They have to transport 120-140 oxygen cylinders a day, which weigh 50-60kg each.
Volunteers take advantage of short breaks to sleep on cardboard boxes. — Photo zing.vn
Working at lockdown posts in many COVID-19 hot spots in the city, Mạc Tư Khoa, 28, from Bình Tân District, decided to move to the city's Tropical Diseases Hospital to support the frontline forces.
Khoa realised that the new mission requires more responsibility and also brings more risks due to close contact with COVID-19 patients.
"At the first training session, the medical staff clearly explained the dangers we faced, as well as detailed instructions on how to transport oxygen tanks. Although knowing that this task is more difficult I'm ready to work," said Khoa.
He tries to complete his personal schedule in the morning and arrives at the hospital at 10pm to prepare for the night shift.
In recent days, due to the increase in the number of F0, the demand for oxygen has also increased significantly.
They are busy all day and night.
During each shift, the coordination team will update the time when the oxygen truck arrives and when it is leaving to help the oxygen transport group arrange their work.
The work is hard so people working the night shift often take advantage of short breaks to sleep. Without beds, blankets or pillows, they sleep on chairs or cardboard boxes.
For Khoa, close contact with the patients is not as scary as hearing the ambulance sirens sound at midnight.
"Watching the ambulances go in and out of the hospital constantly and listening to the long siren sound makes me sad. It means more people have to be hospitalised. I want to contribute more to the society and hope a normal life again returns to everyone," Khoa said. — VNS