By Aditi Peyush
“When a crisis occurs, you have a lot of opportunity to make things happen,” says Jack Giordano, current Align MSCS student and firefighter with the Boston Fire Department (BFD) in Jamaica Plain. He also holds a 2019 MS in security and resilience from Northeastern’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities.
“COVID changed everything for me,” explains Giordano. “In security and resilience, when a crisis occurs – these are the things you study.” In response to the pandemic, after reflecting on areas of service and reaching out to BFD’s Special Operations Command, he now focuses on facilitating the daily tasks of ER doctors and nurses who attend to patients with coronavirus.
“We work with different agencies, such as the Boston Police Department, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital,” Giordano reports. “Anything like biological threats that will impact our infrastructure, we have hands on and we oversee it.”
According to Giordano, front-line city employees are faced with a unique challenge – protecting themselves and their family members. The need for safety equipment and procedures is a huge task. “We’re getting phone calls from agencies that are very behind on getting their PPE [personal protective equipment], and we’re trying to help with that.”
One workday, a partner from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) stopped into the Special Operations Command and requested PPE that would protect his doctors and nurses more comfortably and effectively than the N95s they were then using. Says Giordano, “Doctors were using N95s in the intensive care unit, and, at the end of the day, the goggles were steaming. We wanted to conduct a pilot to experiment with different PPE.” The BFD already had an abundance of respiratory Scott AV 3000 full face-piece masks with oxygen canisters. Collaborating with the hospital contact person, Giordano brought those to the Respiratory Intensive Care Units at MGH and put together a clinical study with the staff who attend to coronavirus patients.
Ensuring mask fit was the goal of the study. Equipped with his computing knowledge, Giordano was able to understand the science underlying the methodology. Explains Giordano, “At MGH, they use an OHD Quantifit [a respirator fit testing system], which uses a computer-based algorithm to detect the pressure of the mask and tell you if the mask will fit or if it will leak.” The testing protocol had immediate use: “We were able to give doctors the appropriate mask using this machine,” says Giordano.
This was also a pivotal moment for him – he realized that his master’s in security and resilience blended with his current focus on computer science in the Align MS degree program. “The pilot just ended, and they’re assessing it,” he says, adding, “If the clinical educator is able to get enough weight on this it could be revolutionary in helping deal with this pandemic.” He is hopeful that safer, more comfortable masks can protect the health of the emergency and clinical staff on the front lines in hospitals so they can better help COVID patients.
Commenting on his work in the Align Program, Giordano says, “I know that my current role [at BFD] is going to mix with computer science because I’m modernizing the technology at the fire department.” He is currently invested in changing how the fire department responds to calls by switching to an electronic template that detects how often the firefighters have visited that area.
Any recommendations he makes will be based on data. Jack said, “at the end of the month you can look at it on a pie chart or in a physical manner and look through a data-driven set of what we’ve been doing. I’m mixing qualitative and quantitative work using software and technology.”
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