Filipino ingenuity is commonly and popularly known. ‘Madiskarte’ as they say. Even in the midst of the Corona virus crisis, this ingenuity comes to fore.
Take for example the 2nd Infantry Division’s quick innovations in reaction to government’s guidelines to help in fighting the pandemic effect of COVID-19.
According to Col Joel Aquino, 2ID’s Service Support Battalion commander, in an interview conducted via e-mail, his division commander Maj Gen Arnulfo Marcelo B Burgos Jr., initially, after emergency command conference on 12 March 2020 re Code Red declaration of PRRD which took effect on 13 of March 2020, directed the 2nd Army Station Hospital to establish preparations and all measures on how to contain possible effects of COVID-19 inside Camp Capinpin.
Establishing Decontamination Facility
Immediately after said conference the first thing that came to Colonel Aquino’s mind was to establish a decontamination facility.
With no open construction hardware outside the camp due to lockdown implementation, “I directed my maintenance personnel to pull out the pressurized water sprayer equipment from our shop and from our car washing facility, together with its accessories and gather all available materials to fabricate improvised stationary and mobile disinfectant machine at Gate 2 of the camp.” He also instructed to have one machine for towed trailer truck with generator to serve as a mobile disinfecting machine for 2ID facilities, respectively. His team of personnel immediately acted as one and complied with the instructions. Both were established within the day.
Portable Hands-Free Washing Station
For the improvised portable hands-free washing station, under the guidance of Com2, the 2ID Chief of Staff Col Augusto Villareal called up Colonel Aquino and instructed him to fabricate hand washing stations using used oil drums and available scrap materials.
Colonel Aquino said the 2ID’s area of operation is on a lockdown, no open malls, shops, hardware store. He further said, all establishments have been closed except for some groceries and wet market stalls. Thereby, he said, there was a conflict in the fabrication of the washing stations considering that scrap materials alone could not complete the portable hands-free wash station to be operationalized.
He further narrated that it was General Burgos’s guidance to use the old/used oil drums. “Commander, 2ID intends to tap the 2nd Infantry Division’s ingenuity by using the recycled drums into portable wash stations and to deploy them to different Quarantine Control Points or QCP in Rizal Province,” he said.
Aside from containing the spread of COVID-19, “the innovation will also serve as a communications tool to educate passers-by on the importance of personal hygiene to defeat the deadly virus plaguing the world through witty printed slogans. Through innovative endeavors, it will promote positive change upon our people’s behavior and at the same time promoting our common advocacy of saving the Earth by reducing garbage,” Colonel Aquino reasoned out.
Though there has been a similar innovation on hand wash station using oil-used drums as seen on social media, the 2ID made their washing stations more distinctive by making them operationalized by hands-free. “To avoid COVID-19 transmission from one person to another, we make them hands-free converting them to foot-operated through pedal instead of twisting the faucet alone by bare hands which we know virus delivery can be transmitted through touching infected things or materials,” Colonel Aquino mentioned.
Specifications of the Portable Washing Station
The Improvised Portable Hands-Free Wash Station is made from a typical 200- liters capacity empty steel oil drum. (See illustrations. Will forward jam and leng via email). Cutting the drum for hole on top fitted to the size of the stainless lavatory is extremely dangerous. Cutting was done by using a steel cutting disk, however, extra precaution should be done prior. Washing the inside and outside part of the drum with soap is essential considering it has an oil/gas presence inside it which could create a sudden explosion when sparks of cutting disk or acetylene tool ignited inside the drum, Colonel Aquino explained.
Likewise, a utility hole with cover was provided for future repair. It has a water inlet pipe at the back as a provision to the source. The other end connected to a ball-type gate valve, flexible hose then to the faucet in that order all 1/2″ diameter in size. The Drain outlet is also installed at the back in 1″ diameter size for the user’s connection going to the sewerage system or septic tank. Insert illustrations here.
Today, the unit is using cable-type-mechanism instead of metal-swing-type-mechanism that is easy to fabricate and install, stated the SSB commander.
He further said cost estimate for each washing station is around Php2,400 to Php 2,700, including the liquid soap. However, the scrap and the drum are not included in the costing. The user will just connect the washing station into existing water line connection and install it to a place where the user wants to install it,” Colonel Aquino lengthily explained.
Asked on how do soldiers first received the idea of the portable washing station, he answered: “They (soldiers/end users) highly appreciated the innovative washing station and were curious how we did it hands-free. The Unit (2SSBn) welders and tinsmith painstakingly and patiently innovated to provide the best result and they continuously develop and work for more modifications for them to fabricate the washing station easy and economically. By stepping on the foot pedal downward placed in front of the drum will release the water from the faucet. You just release the pedal to close the water also. No further training needed. Just follow Department of Health’s advise on how to wash hands properly, he also added.
Colonel Aquino is very proud to say that the washing station he conceptualized is different because of it being operated hands-free. “It is a first time in the Army, particularly at 2ID. In fact, the G4 of 7th Infantry Division has called us up and started fabricating their own washing stations for their division. Even the Health Committee, Municipality of Eastern Samar requested for the pattern of our innovative washing station. Our Duty EP SSBn received a call from a certain Mr Bhert Daing III of Espana, Manila who said: “Pakisabi na Thank you sa invention n’.yang iyon. Nakapagaling.. Pakisabi maraming salamat. Iyan ang matagal ko nang suggestion sa Jollibee at Mcdo. Thank you ulit at napakagaling nya. Pakiparating na lang sa kanya.” Even in my personal Facebook account, there were many who posted Like. I also received many favorable comments from local and abroad. You can check my FB at dyowelakino with a profile of me in white shirt, and holding a stone, he said.
Other innovations the 2ID introduced
Prior media releases of other units and agencies, the 2ID was the first that acted immediately to provide sanitation facility using Improvised Stationary/Mobile Disinfectant Machine to its camp entrance gate and facilities. “The news telecast released by GMA7’s 24-Oras with Kapuso Foundation was late in more or less five days before they got hold of our story, Colonel Aquino said.”
His concluding words about this pandemic virus? “Everybody is a vulnerable target by COVID-19, including animals. Regardless of whatever status in life, a person can be the next victim of this infectious disease. Obey the advises and protocols of DOH and World Health Organization “Stay Home and Stay Safe.” Awareness, cleanliness and discipline are the most significant factors that every human being must have in order to fight the virus. Despite the expertise of our medical frontliners, despite our facilities to treat this COVID-19, they could be nothing if people will remain uninformed, if they won’t have discipline, would not bother about cleanliness and if they will not observe other prevention measures. It is the intent of our 2ID Commander to disseminate this kind of innovation. It should be replicated not only in the Philippine Army or in the whole Armed Forces of the Philippines but also with other agencies, so they could practice proper hygiene, and to propagate cleanliness to put a stop in spreading the deadly virus. Finallly and above all, let us always offer a prayer to our Almighty God for all of us to survive in this world-wide pandemic virus.”