This is National EMS Week.

Thursday's story of EMS dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic is from Paramedic Eric Dailey, Denver Health Medical Center Paramedic Division.

What is your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is bringing COVID-19 home to my family. When you enter EMS, you understand there is a personal risk, but it is an acceptable risk for myself. It would be TERRIBLE to bring this home to my kids.

How are you and your crewmates personally handling this pandemic?

We are handling this well. Like everything else, there is some levity to deal with it; every time someone coughs or sneezes we point and exclaim, “YOU HAVE COVID!” DHMC crews are maintaining an upbeat demeanor.

If we faced a higher mortality rate, some people would say “we can’t do this.” But emergency services people have that personality trait that thrives on adverse conditions — we laugh in its face.

What is most troubling to your EMS agency?

The universal problem of everyone, the consistency of supply of PPE. Here at the Division, the command staff ensures everybody, every day, every shift has the PPE we need. But if that supply chain breaks …

What is the most difficult aspect of EMS care today?

Our medical directors have amended our protocols for aerosolizing procedures. I feel like we are not giving the same patient care (as before the pandemic). It is tough watching this guy getting worse as we transport him to the hospital, but we can’t use some simple procedures.

What has been the best aspect of EMS care today?

This has encouraged our emergency services community — hospital, fire, police — that we are all in this together. We’ve had a great relationship with everyone, of course, but the pandemic has brought us patience and grace with each other.

What has surprised you?

The community support, the thanks! The community is so thankful, donating food and the 8:00 pm “howl.” The expression of support surprised me. It’s like we are in a perpetual EMS Week, going on two months! I think the appreciation will linger for a while, as it did after 9/11

I am not surprised by our leadership’s ability to provide for us. The hospital and Paramedic Division command staff rose to the challenge for us. It is fantastic!

Can you offer an uplifting experience?

Yes! Our Peer Support Team jumped in to organize donations, and coordinate Paid Time Off so we could “share” days if someone got sick. They jumped in head first with tons of ideas.

The long-lasting EMS story coming from this pandemic will be the lessons learned. Any after-action report (AAR) will look at our PPE burn rate, how we could function better with Public Health. All so we can improve. We are always striving for improvement in EMS.

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