Three north-east ambulance workers have told how they continue to do the job they love in the face of the pandemic and have spoken of the “immense pride” they take in carrying out their duties.
The trio work for the Scottish Ambulance Service and between them have almost 30 years of service.
Laura Stephen, 32, from Inverurie is a paramedic team leader, with seven years service.
While Scott Burnett, 41, from Portlethen, also a paramedic team leader has 19 years service.
And John Haldane, 25, of Aberdeen city centre, is an ambulance technician with two years service.
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Laura spoke of the pressures faced during the current situation, and said: “Working as a paramedic has continued to be an enjoyable and fulfilling job although the coronavirus pandemic has faced us with unique challenges.
“There’s an additional pressure to not only support the public with the anxiety and concerns of the situation but also to our colleagues who are doing their upmost to protect themselves and others.
She added: “Practicing social distancing can be difficult as most calls that we attend involves us carrying out assessments or interventions that require contact with others. However all staff are doing their best to ensure they have the appropriate PPE provided and wear it appropriately to minimise risk to our own and others safety.
“I have always felt proud to be a paramedic and work for the Scottish ambulance service, and now more so than ever. It has been overwhelming to see the appreciation and gratitude from everyone through messages of support and donations. It is a reminder how rewarding and valuable the role is.”
Meanwhile, Scott spoke of the impact the outbreak has had and said: “My work itself has not changed however the conditions of such work have in relation to protecting ourselves by using PPE and our contact with patients.
“Patients are more fearful for themselves and us as key workers. We are still a frontline emergency service who respond to calls and treat patients in the best way we can, it’s just the logistics that are slightly different.”
And he spoke of what it is like responding to calls during lockdown, saying: “It is strange being out and about during lock down. Responding to calls is much easier with regards to less traffic to negotiate. We are well used to not seeing many people going about during nightshifts but it’s very different seeing that during the day.”
He went on to say: “Having to deal with social distancing has been very difficult. In our role we are often in someone’s personal space when either examining or treating them. Patients can find this difficult even more so now when we are in full PPE.
“I feel we are a vital part in the treatment and transport of corona virus patients. I feel proud to be part of the ambulance service although scary at the moment with the unknown. It’s still a very rewarding job and even more so now. The support from the public has been outstanding. I was quite emotional the first time I heard the Thursday 8pm clap from all the surrounding streets.
“Not being able to see family and friends has been difficult but I think we are lucky that we have the technology so I’m able to keep in touch with people over facetime etc. The fact that shops have opened especially for NHS workers has helped with weekly shops etc.
“Getting finished I’m straight into the shower before leaving work, as there is the worry that I could take this virus home to my family. Once home, it’s catching up with family and finding out how their day has gone with home schooling etc and getting something to eat. If I’m nights I’m straight home to bed.”
John spoke of the challenges presented by social distancing, and said: “Practising social distancing has been challenging but like a lot of things, it is not about being perfect but about doing your best in the situation you find yourself in.
“If we have the space to do so then we of course distance ourselves from each other and the public but there are occasionally tight squeeze situations that we find ourselves in. Nevertheless, we always wear the correct PPE to keep ourselves and others safe at all times.”
He also spoke of the pride he has in his job: “I feel an immense sense of pride and responsibility working as an ambulance technician during the pandemic. I have always felt this way about my role but now to an even greater extent. I have never felt so inspired and motivated to do my job than I do now as I have been amazed at the acts of kindness that the public has shown to us.”