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A day in the life of an EMS worker during COVID-19

Are you feeling hot, hot, hot? So are your local EMS workers -- along with exhausted and stressed.

With a snap of the gloves and a routine temperature check, EMT Brianna Mead is ready for the next 911 call for Susquehanna Valley EMS.

"This protects us from all type of stuff," explained Mead referring to her respirator.

Credit: WPMT FOX43

It's a respirator worn specifically because of COVID-19, and it's hardly glamorous.

"It pools up in sweat at the bottom, so by the end of the call, it's kind of like swim goggles, you can dump it," laughed Mead.

Imagine being an EMS worker who has to wear their normal uniform plus a gown, face shield, and N95 mask. They say they can be wearing all that for up to an hour.

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"We're exhausted," explained Adam Marden, Susquehanna Valley EMS operations manager. "We're dehydrated. We can get headaches, upset stomachs, and we just got to try and stay hydrated when we can and stay in the air condition."

At the onset of the pandemic, Marden says the call volume dipped, but over the past two weeks, he says it's been busy with more heat-related emergencies and cardiac arrests.

"The car accidents have [also] increased because people are not used to driving," said Marden. "They're being careless."

COVID-19 doesn't appear to be going away any time soon either.

"I had a COVID patient two days ago," stated Marden. "I probably see more COVID patients now than in the beginning."

It means more continued cleaning of trucks with hospital grade disinfectant... and more stress.

"We fog it out for about 5 seconds, and we seal the ambulance for about 10-15 minutes," said Marden. "Even though we're taking the proper precautions, providers are going home saying, 'did I get it?'"

Marden says it's not a sprint.

"It's going to be a long marathon, I think," said Marden.  

Susquehanna Valley EMS is prepared in case the pandemic lasts into the fall or winter.

"We are," said Marden. "We have prepared with getting PPE, and we have enough PPE to keep our first responders safe."

Keeping his employees safe is what Marden says is top priority.