Covid 19 Heroes
As The pandemic took hold and the number of cases of the Coronavirus increased throughout the UK, our medics stepped up. Our Medic 1 headquarters are in Wales, but we work nationally. In March our latest CQC Inspection Report was released and this led to us being contacted by several NHS Ambulance Trusts.
Following an inspection and approval from the North West Ambulance Trust (NWAS) we were asked to provide services to assist with the pandemic across the North West. Everything happened at lightning speed, as COVID 19 took hold across the country. One afternoon, we were given our shifts for the next three months, starting the next morning.
The first hurdle was finding accommodation for the team, as by this time we were in lockdown. Initially we found accommodation for a week, giving the management team a breathing space to arrange something longer term. The next morning the crew left Anglesey, most of them would not come home for three months. The team were nervous, we knew we were going to deal with an illness that was costing some people their lives but were also determined to make a difference and help whoever we could.
Luggage was hastily deposited into the apartments we had hired, and the first shifts took place. That night back in the apartments there was a sense of achievement that we had got this far, but also much to ponder. The next morning as the first crew went out to prepare their ambulance for duty, they were greeted to the site of the ambulance vandalised. Windows had been broken and equipment stolen. Luckily there was time for another vehicle to be sent from our base, in North Wales for the late shift, and the first crew left on time, a bit shaken but determined to do the job.
The police had of course been called on discovering the damaged vehicle and it has to be said they were brilliant. They arrived quickly and within a short time they had apprehended the culprit, who has since been successfully prosecuted. The police felt certain that we needed to move to other accommodation, sadly the owners of the apartments, were not able to help us. Following this a senior member of NHS staff at one of the hospitals stepped in, and to cut a long story short, we were welcomed by Liverpool University to the Greenbank Halls of residence. Here we were made welcome and felt safe. We must extend our thanks to the people that made this happen. We quickly settled into a routine. We did four shifts a day, seven days a week.
Over the coming weeks, we experienced every emotion, at times we were homesick, missing our families and hoping they would be alright, on other occasions hearing the stories of survivors, left us feeling happy and full of hope. During our shifts in Merseyside, Manchester and Lancashire, we met people from all walks of life. We transported 1700 patients of all ages, from children to people over 100 years old.
The hospital staff and our NWAS colleagues made us so welcome, sharing a joke, showing us where we could grab a drink and best of all accepting us into their teams. The people of Liverpool, our second home, treated a group of Welsh Medics like their own. Another memorable highlight were Thursday evenings at 20:00, when “clapping for the NHS & carers” took place. It really felt special and if circumstances allowed, enabled ambulance and hospital staff to pause and come together for a minute, to be thankful and also to remember those lost to COVID 19.
We have worked during the happiest and saddest of times and will never forget our Liverpool home or working in a Pandemic. Below we share some of our memories: “one very lively 90-year-old lady wanted to take one of our medics home. She had some X-rated plans for him!”
“At one hospital we transported their first COVID patient home. He had been very ill. As we wheeled the patient along the corridor, the staff all clapped for him and filmed him leaving to share the special moment with his family. There were not many dry eyes!”.
“We took a gentleman home that had been in a coma. They weren’t sure if he would survive. He was so pleased to be going home. As we turned the corner into his street, it was lined with people all there clapping and cheering, to welcome him home. The gentleman and his family thanked us for getting him home safely, but of course we know our part was small and their thanks were for the team that had got him home.” - Later we were sent the video of us taking him from the ambulance into his home. We had no idea we were being filmed!
Our staff recounted a particularly moving encounter with one COVID-positive patient that we transported, who was thankful to us for transporting her. We explained we were happy to help and were just doing our job. She was crying and said that we treated her like she didn’t have anything wrong with her. Knowing that caring for her put the ambulance and medical team at risk; she felt there had been times when people had seen the virus and not the person. She felt seen and valued by our team. “The time we were sent to Blackpool. There was a delay with the patient, and we were told to go for a meal break. Well there is no need to say that to ambulance crews twice! We headed for a chippy that we had seen was open. We collected our chips and sat on a bench to eat them, as we didn’t want to make the ambulance smell! Down came the biggest seagull you have ever seen and stole the lot. Of course, we were then told that the patient was ready so never did get a replacement.”
“We pulled over to check that the postcode in the Satnav was correct, as it didn’t seem like we were heading in the right direction. The next thing we know there is a police car next to us. The officer asks us what the problem is, we explain and before we know it, we are being escorted through Warrington in the middle of the night! He just wanted to help us get to the patient safely and quickly.” - Working with other public servants made such a difference to our team.
“We did not have any patients on board, so put fuel in the ambulance and went into the garage to pay for fuel and get a bottle of water. When we got to the vehicle, there was a big bag of goodies. We had been #Hit”
“One night, we dropped off the last patient at a nursing home. She was a lovely lady; whose room was on the top floor. We took her on the ambulance cot, in the lift. Handed over and tucked her into bed. We got back into the lift, by then we had gone way over our shift, it was one o’clock in the morning. The lift moved and stopped suddenly. You’ve guessed it, it was stuck. We were there for quite some time. Not so funny then, but it is now!”. Special thanks to the caretaker and security at Greenbank Halls. Both of them and their families made cakes, pictures and generally spoiled us rotten.