Storyteller: Angela Wolfin
Brian is 38 years old and lives in Bay County. He is the operations manager for an ambulance company that provides 911 service to his community. Around December 2019 he was talking to a family member who was telling him about a virus that was beginning to spread overseas. She also told him about a website that Johns Hopkins hospital had created to track the progression of the illness. Since then, Brian has learned a great deal about COVID-19, the signs and symptoms to look for, and how to protect his family and staff as much as possible.
When the virus first began to spread in the United States Brian was required to attend multiple meetings on a nearly daily basis. First, the local hospital had to determine protocols for transporting and treating patients who were confirmed or potentially infected. They had to determine how much PPE was available and how much would be needed. Brian had to make sure his EMS staff was provided with CAPR helmets and shields, gowns, surgical masks, and N95s. Training became a high priority for all staff both in the EMS division and in the hospital. Hand washing was stressed as the most important detail to be mindful of for everyone. Other meetings involved the county medical control board, government agencies such as the health department, and all fire departments in the county.
As the spread of the virus progressed and the state went into lockdown, the community came together to show their appreciation for EMS. Restaurants, banks, and other businesses began bringing food for the crews along with cards and letters thanking them for their service to the community. This, Brian says, caused him to gain “a lot of weight”. But Brian also gained a great deal of knowledge. He has learned about virology and epidemiology. He has learned about how the virus is transmitted, the signs and symptoms it causes, and best practices for treating patients and protecting his employees.
2020 has been full of challenges for Brian but he has also gained so many things. Knowledge, experience, and most important of all appreciation of freedom. The freedom to simply go out to a movie, to a concert, sporting events, or just to take his family out to dinner. To do things freely with friends and strangers without fear of becoming sick or unknowingly infecting others. One day Brian will be free to do these things again and when he does, those events will be far more meaningful than they ever had been before.