This week we celebrate EMS week and as life has been different for all of us, we can only imagine how it’s changed for those serving on the frontlines. Life as we know it has changed completely. We heard from a GRT Brett Hoversen who is an EMS in Leon County, Florida about how life has changed since this all began.
How has your job changed since the COVID-19 pandemic?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, generally people are more reluctant to go the hospital or see their doctor. This seems to have led to people not getting prescriptions filled or not being seen early on for things not COVID related that could become worse or even life threatening. Our call volume dropped for a while, but I noticed we were responding to more people who were significantly sicker than normal. Another big change is wearing at minimum a face mask and eye protection on every 911 call we respond too. On top of that, our call takers and dispatch have been trained to screen patients over the phone for possible COVID symptoms and relay that information to EMS crews. If COVID-19 is suspected, we use enhance personal protective equipment, or PPE, such as N95 masks and gowns.
Why did you become an EMT?
I have always been interested in medicine ever since I was young. This led to the simple decision and start of my medical career when I was enlisting in the U.S. Army. I decided at that point that I wanted to be a medic. Every combat medic goes through training to become a Nationally Certified EMT before moving on to the army medic portion of the school. This also meant that when I got out of the Army in 2018, I had a good skill and certification to fall back on. This led to me becoming an EMT for Leon County, Florida. I absolutely love my job. It is such a rewarding job being able to help people in need and provide not only medical care, but also support family members during emergencies. Currently, I am in Paramedic school furthering my education and level of care that I can provide. Becoming a medic in the Army was like opening a whole new world for me. There hasn’t been a single day that I haven’t learned something new. Medicine is constantly changing and such a vast subject. There is always more information to learn and add to your toolbox which makes medicine that much more interesting to me.
Would you say it’s important for you to be in shape for your job as an EMT? How do you stay in shape?
Working in EMS you are constantly working under both physical and mental stress. This is why it is so important to stay in shape and live a healthy lifestyle. The healthier you are, the better your immune system functions allowing you to fight off any potential illnesses you may be exposed too. Personally, to stay in shape, I ruck and workout a few times a week.
How often do you ruck or do ruck PT and how has COVID-19 affected your training?
I typically try to ruck or do ruck PT about 3 times a week on average. Thankfully, rucking doesn’t require a gym and can be done anywhere. Social distancing while rucking hasn’t been an issue, therefore, COVID-19 has not affected this routine much. The biggest change has been not rucking with my fellow weirdos from Tallahassee Ruck Crew. We have all been putting in work alone and are itching to get at it and embrace the suck together. We are all looking forward to future events here in Tallahassee, as well as nearby. I know many of us are planning on attending GRT Reunion in Jacksonville Beach and GORUCK’s 10-year Anniversary event in St. Augustine.
What is one thing you would urge people to do to take care of themselves in the wake of all these changes due to the virus?
The number one thing I would urge people to do is to thoroughly wash their hands often. This is such an easy task to perform and one of the most effective things you can do to prevent the spread of disease. If you don’t have access to washing your hands, alcohol-based sanitizers work very well as a substitute. If you are ill, stay home and contact your physician over the phone and discuss the best plan of action for you and your health. Wearing a mask out in public is also helpful in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
What is one thing you look forward to doing after restrictions are lifted and life goes back to “normal?”
Honestly, the number one thing I look forward to is not having to wear a mask and eye protection on every 911 call we respond too. It seems so trivial to talk about it, but wearing a mask all the time causes difficulty while communicating with patients or partners, as well as, making it more difficult to breath, especially in stressful and physical situations where you may be breathing heavier or more rapid than normal.