The COVID-19 Pandemic continues to test EMS professionals like never before. Paramedics and other frontline workers are rising to the challenge and each has a crucial role in responding to the public health emergency of our lifetime. Throughout the pandemic, paramedics have been on the frontlines, caring for the sickest COVID-19 patients, while also staffing COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics.
My name is Sheldon Hirschfeld and I have the privilege of working at Parkland Ambulance in Prince Albert as an advanced care/community paramedic as well as being on pastoral staff at one of the churches here in Prince Albert. Our work in community has fostered some incredible relationships as we work with personal care homes, long term care, family physicians, nurse practitioners, palliative care team, home care team, public health and other agencies.
When the global pandemic came to affect us here in Saskatchewan, one of my biggest fears was that I could possibly bring COVID-19 home to my family, to my church family, or to the people that we saw daily in my role as a community paramedic. This brought about changes at work but also in how we did things as a family. We now have masks and hand sanitizer in every vehicle and around our home. We have gotten to know each other better as a family. (We actually have some pretty cool kids! My wife has taught me how little I know!)
All kidding aside, the COVID-19 pandemic created some frustration for me as an individual. One of the biggest was that we were unable to drop in and visit at the personal care homes with their residents, spending time to get to know them. I enjoyed these visits as I think it fosters a better relationship in helping people navigate their individual health journey. I feel patient care does not begin nor end with medical procedures; patient care is caring for a person not a disease process.
I appreciate the guidance and information that Saskatchewan Health Authority provided to churches/houses of worship so we could continue to meet safely as a church community. As well, I truly appreciate the work that the SHA has done in working with sports. We have six children at home, and they were starting to go a little stir crazy; however, with the guidance of the SHA that was provided, they have been able to engage in sport activities this spring.
Since September 1, 2020, the community paramedics in Prince Albert have done over 1,000 COVID-19 test swabs, taken part in several vaccine clinics, and worked with our family physicians to help meet some unique medical needs in addition to our usual roles. We will continue to work with our partners to help in the battle against COVID-19.
Lewis B. Smedes said: “Waiting is the hardest part of hope.” We all have been waiting for the global pandemic to come to an end and it will end. We need to continue to work together, as we are known to here in Saskatchewan and STICK IT to COVID-19!