At the best of times, working as a paramedic is stressful.
But now being on the front lines with a virus that’s taken the lives of tens of thousands of people, emotions are reaching another level.
“The job is stressful anyway, but now we’re adding this heightened alert of the COVID crisis. It’s 100% for sure increased everybody’s anxiety level, stress level.” said Gordon Cavanaugh, a primary care paramedic in Victoria.
With more people now staying inside, there’s been a decrease in calls to respond to, but the added measures put in place to ensure safety is doubling the time it takes to deal with a patient.
Protective gloves, an N-95 mask and a face shield are now required for every situation and if there’s any potential that it’s COVID-related, they’ll also put on a gown. It may look intimidating to the patients, but these measures are absolutely necessary.
“We are entering into a debris field of physical and emotion and psychological tension. We’re concerned for their safety in terms of they could potentially get contacted. Are they going to take this home to their families?” said Regional Manager for B.C. Ambulance Services Brad Cameron.
The paramedics say there’s a strong feeling of anxiety that looms when responding to a possible COVID call, but ultimately their job is to protect the patients.
“You kind of have to compartmentalize those stressful moments and push past them, get through the call and then decompress afterwards.” said primary care paramedic Jennifer Hicks.
“We’re here, we’ve got you, we’re going to take care of you. Just be patient with us, be patient with all of health care because everything has to move slower because it’s just too dangerous not to.”