This is National EMS Week.

Wednesday's Colorado story of EMS dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic is from Paramedic Tom Anderson, Supervisor of American Medical Response in Canon City.

My greatest fear is the economy and entire infrastructure failing. And our inability to get the PPE we need.

How are you and your crewmates personally handling this pandemic?

We are lucky. In our area, we’ve only had 18 people test positive for COVID-19, so were not “too” worried about the pandemic. But we take care with decon and make sure we have enough PPE. And it’s hard to get.

What is most troubling to your EMS agency?

The lack of PPE. Not just for EMS, but for the hospitals and other co-workers. Everyone knows someone without adequate PPE. There are hotspots — the nurses. I worry about the well-being of friends.

The most difficult aspect of EMS care today is working in masks. Can your patient hear you?  Can I hear the patient? And our patients are scared. They are scared we may have the virus.

The best thing about working EMS in this pandemic is the closeness of caregivers. And of our families.

What has surprised you?

What an ordeal this is. Our world has shut down because of this disease, and, as smart as we are we let it become this. But everyone has stepped up. And that has not surprised me. Everyone. Healthcare, truckers, Walmart people. Someone is ALWAYS trying to help, making masks or just bring treats to workers.

Has your agency been supported by locals?

Everyone here has been so respectful. “How can we help — make masks for you?” Even the drive-through restaurants are helping. Our ambulances can’t fit in the drive-through lane, so they will bring food out to us.

What do you think will be the long-lasting EMS story coming from this pandemic?

 It will be our lack of preparedness. There will have to be action to fix these problems: training and education, PPE standards local plans. We have volunteer agencies that had no plans at all. Some must, and will, come out of this Nobody is exempt. We’ve been reminded of that and we must plan for this happening again.

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