Paramedics have been on the frontline throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, responding to emergency calls as usual but under different pressures which have forced them to take steps to protect themselves and their families.
Queensland Ambulance Service paramedics Brooke Curley and Jordan Hill spoke to Moreton Daily about the impact COVID-19 has had on them and their colleagues in the Moreton Bay Region.
The couple met at their induction as graduate paramedics about 10 years ago.
Since then, Brooke has become a critical care paramedic based at Caboolture and Jordan has become an advanced care paramedic based at Narangba.
“It (COVID-19) has changed the nature and way we deal with cases, wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), asking different questions and more personal questions than ever before,” Brooke says.
She says patients and families have also had to trust paramedics are managing the risks and will not bring the virus into their homes.
“It’s been a challenge but something we’re working through,” Brooke says.
Jordan agrees the level of PPE they have to wear is challenging particularly when working long shifts.
“Being healthcare workers, we’re on the frontline,” he says.
When the pandemic started in Australia, the broader team was not sure what to expect and most were concerned about being infected at work and passing it on to family and friends.
“We had to be so careful and vigilant in what we did even on RDOs,” Jordan explains.
The couple does not have children but was concerned about nieces and nephews and extended family members.
“You never want to be that person that subjects anyone else to a virus or disease,” Jordan says.
“Everyone did what was asked of them but you could sense the nerves.
“I’m proud of the way people have responded. Everyone stepped up and worked well together to get the job done.”
Brooke says there are many different types of paramedics working in the QAS and COVID-19 has brought them together.
“There’s a real sense of unity and that people are engaged (and connected) who wouldn’t have previously,” she says.
The Caboolture team has created a ‘green space’ at their station, even adding a fish as a station mascot and enjoying ice blocks on hot days.
Jordan says it has been harder to see family and friends, so team members have reached out to each other.
“Everyone’s stepped up to look out for each other and people are reaching out if they’re struggling a bit as well,” he says.
On the whole, the public has been grateful for the work paramedics do, working with them to adhere to COVID-19 regulations during interactions.
Jordan says there have been exceptions – those not prepared to wear a mask and keen to express their views on vaccinations when crews arrive.
So, do they consider themselves as frontline heroes?
“I consider us as frontline workers, not doing anything heroic, just what’s expected of our profession,” Brooke says.
Both agree that helping the community is rewarding and their jobs are very different to any other.
Their message to the community is to continue caring for each other, particularly the elderly.
“Look out for your neighbours and people around you, supporting and uplifting them as well as you can,” Brooke says.
Meet more frontline heroes here