The NHS is working harder than ever to deliver essential care at this time. NHS NIGHTINGALE London is a huge and historic project to save lives from COVID-19 by creating a 4000-bed intensive care hospital.
The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers had a great chance to provide a helping hand in this project. On 26th March, despite very short notice, the Regiment deployed a troop of artisan tradesmen to the ExCel Centre. The troop was made up of electricians, heating and plumbing engineers, air conditioning and refrigeration fitters (ACR), and carpenters and joiners.
The first day on the task site was very busy. The approaching deadline meant that the pace of civilian contractors’ work was fast, so without any delay we the tradesmen started working with them. We quickly learned the best way of doing the work and then started doing it on our own. As C&J tradesmen, our priority was to reinforce the pre-installed bed cabinet with the MDF boards, which also acted as an attachment point for electrical and gas services. In addition, I was lucky enough to practice my trade skills when I worked with other civilian joiners in the installation of the doors.
At the same time, the ACR fitters were preparing copper pipework and assisting contractors with the braising of the pipe work. They went on to installing the oxygen and medical air pipework at the bedsides, vital for keeping COVID-19 patients alive. The electricians were fabricating and installing the electrical trunking, which they did very fast due to good teamwork and initiative.
From assembling shelving to drilling every single screw, as a tradesman, I thoroughly enjoyed the Project NIGHTINGALE. Everyone’s common goal was to get this job done before the deadline and to save lives. We worked very long working hours and made ourselves very useful throughout the project. Being a public servant, it was a wonderful feeling you get when you get to serve your country, and that kept us going day and night. Lastly, a huge respect to the NHS staff around the UK for what they are doing in order to save lives.
By Sapper Puspa Gurung, 70 Gurkha Field Squadron, Queen’s Gurkha Engineers