‘COVID changed everything’: EMS workers weigh in on pandemic’s toll
Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) – COVID-19 doesn’t stop at testing lines or hospitals.
It’s all over the community and every day, EMT workers who are already on the front lines responding to life and death situations have the pandemic to deal with.
Last week, 6 News brought you the story of James Swindlehurst, a Mid-Michigan EMT who worked with Mercy for the past 10 years. He died of COVID-19 on Christmas Eve, at just 33 years old.
His story rocked the community and shows just how dangerous the pandemic can be for frontline workers.
“We are seeing an increase in covid positive patients that we’re transporting,” said Anne Hein, Public Information Officer for Medstar. “But like many other EMS agencies, there are already protocols and processes in place for infectious disease.”
But even with that increased risk, Hein says first responders haven’t shied away from their duties.
“Overall, this is part of what they’re trained to do, it’s what they signed up to do, they’re here to help the community (and) they’re trained,” Hein said. “Their commitment to serving the patients and communities we serve has been incredible through all of this.”
Kayla Swindlehurst works for Mercy Ambulance as an EMT. She was married to James — the two met at Mercy — who died from COVID-19 he contracted on the job.
She says there’s no doubt COVID-19 has made a tough job even tougher.
“COVID changed everything when it came to EMS and fire calls,” she said. “Our protocols changed, the way we walk into houses, the way we can approach people, the questioning; it changed everything.”
Beyond that, workers are not only being asked to do things differently they’re being asked to do more than ever before.
“The services we provide, like monoclonal antibodies treatments, that was a service that’s just really taken off in the last 34 months and it’s just a way EMS’s have had to adapt and provide different types of services that they haven’t provided before,” Hein said. “It’s really taking EMS beyond the emergency calls and really taking that out into the community.”
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