Airmen Dorm Leader prevents COVID-19 spread

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shranil Kumar, 86th Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen Dorm Leader, puts an assortment of snacks into a welcome bag for incoming junior Airmen who will be required to self-quarantine on Ramstein Air Base, Oct. 8.

An 86th Civil Engineer Squadron Airman was recognized as Airlifter of the Week for his role in averting a COVID-19 outbreak and protecting the welfare of those living on or near Ramstein Air Base, Oct. 8.

Brig. Gen. Josh Olson, 86th Airlift Wing commander, presented Staff Sgt. Shranil Kumar, 86th CES Airmen Dorm Leader, with the award for his initiation in standing up quarantine rooms to house a total of 1,535 incoming junior Airmen arriving from COVID-19 high risk areas.

Out of caution, any Airman in-processing to Ramstein is required to self-isolate for 14 days. The intent of this self-isolation is to prevent any exposure of the virus to the Kaiserslautern Military Community.

In conjunction with Military Family Housing and Vectrus, Kumar prepped self-isolation rooms by sanitizing and inspecting them for any irregularities, such as an old light bulb requiring replacement.

This time-intensive effort comes in addition to the host of responsibilities Kumar already owns. As an ADL, Kumar’s primary responsibility is to guide, mentor and lead the U.S. Air Force’s most junior Airmen. While assigned to this special-duty position, non-commissioned officers are expected to perform dormitory inspections, handle in and out-processing and ensure the dormitories are maintained in working order.

With COVID-19, Kumar said the workload of an ADL increased nearly two-fold.

“Our process has changed numerous times to cater to the changes we have been going through with COVID,” said Kumar. “Another big task in addition to the 60 quarantine rooms we stood up is assisting more seasoned Airmen who volunteer to relocate off base. This initiative is in an effort to free up additional dorm space for incoming Airmen.”

For Airmen coming straight from technical training, the shift in time zone, continents, and native language in addition to the mandated self-quarantine may be overwhelming for some.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shranil Kumar, center, 86th Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen dorm leader, poses for a photo with other volunteers on Ramstein Air Base, Oct. 8,.The group, consisting of volunteers from the USO and other ADLs, are attempting to make the transition to Germany a little easier for incoming junior Airmen.

With this possibility in mind, Kumar is doing everything he can to ensure the cleanliness of the dorms and the comfort of the Airmen moving into them.

A recent example occurred on Oct. 12. While most were able to enjoy a Monday off, Kumar spent his day off preparing dorm rooms after he received a last-minute notification for more than a dozen incoming junior Airmen requiring self-isolation.

Additionally, in a partnership with USO and the Defense Commissary Agency, Kumar led a 12-man team who assembled and delivered more than 170 welcome bags and snack packs for junior Airmen self-isolating in the dorms.

Kumar’s initiative has played an important role in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Perhaps equally as important, he boosted the resiliency of Ramstein’s First Term Airmen at the same time.

As a result of his actions, Kumar became a “shoo-in” winner for Airlifter of the Week.

“This recognition feels great,” said Kumar. “I’m always working hard and am blessed to have the leadership I have that sees me and my peers for what we do. Without them taking the time to write a package for me, I would not be finding myself here.”

Though the pandemic may have brought much of the world to a halt, the U.S. Air Force and its people, like Kumar, will continue to take every safety precaution necessary to ensure the mission never stops.