A year of Covid-19 in SA - 'Don't let your guard down' warns frontline worker
DURBAN - FRONTLINE worker, Ceron Meadows, has urged people to continue to prepare for further outbreaks and not let their guard down.
"The general population should not let their guard down and not become complacent either. We are constantly revising protocols around our safety, better disinfecting/sanitising processes and building relationships with Port Health to ensure patients from outside of South Africa can be brought in sooner than how its been during the pandemic. These Covid-19 protocols we adhere to cover the aeromedical side and road ambulances, pilots and paramedics," she said.
Meadows is an Emergency Care Practitioner and National Medical Operations Manager at Black Eagle Emergency Medical Services and have 15 years of experience under her belt.
Today marks the the first anniversary of the country's first Covid-19 case which was identified in Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal.
Meadows said, looking back on some of the lessons learnt, that while humans were adaptive and resilient, many took for granted the fact that healthcare will always be available.
"I also learned that our operation is constantly undergoing change to ensure rosters have teams where the teams are not in contact with each other to aid the company in not shutting doors entirely, should one team become infected. As medical personnel, we will encounter times of treating our own family and/or not being able to have that time spent together due to our professions not knowing if and when we would get affected ourselves," she said.
Like thousands of healthcare workers across the country, Meadows faced many challenges and had to make many sacrifices over the last year.
"The financial challenge was the biggest, the cost implications around buying additional means to sanitise, fog and stay safe. Some of these included outlaying costs for a fogging machine, an ISO-ARC - infectious patient capsule - and additional PPE to maintain a high standard within our operation. Some other challenges we encountered were hospitals having no beds and patients unable to be admitted for further care, getting sick patients, who may not even have Covid, into South Africa from foreign countries due to bed availability in hospitals and Covid regulations like waiting for Covid results which sometimes took three days which hindered the patients treatment and sometimes their outcome," she said.
Meadows added that her life and job had changed during the course of the year.
"Being a medical entity, disinfecting and sanitising is not new however Covid-19 called for stricter measures whereby not all the ambulances were able to operate 24/7 as before due to some being stood down for sometime for fogging that needed to be done before the next call. Excessive PPE in Durban with the humidity is no joke but we have all learnt to accept it and become accustomed to it now for our benefit and the benefit of the next patient we need to transport whether it be on the fixed wing aircraft, the helicopters or in the ambulances," she said.
In the midst of doom and gloom, Meadows had to remain upbeat and positive.
"My passion for emergency medical care is what drives me to always do better and this goes for the entire Black Eagle operation. We specialise in patients who require Intensive Care transportation and are very ill therefore we strive to stay focused and happy knowing we may change the outcome of that persons life especially little neonates that have their whole life ahead of them. Doing your best and knowing you not transferring diseases onto others is a great personal reward," she said.
She said the many online courses available helped her train for fighting against the pandemic.
"I took part in many online courses were available to ensure the correct PPE is worn and disinfectant procedures are correctly followed, we all think we doing it right however there is always something to learn to do it better. The training we constantly go through will not only be for this pandemic but remain in place for the operation to ensure no other infectious diseases will be passed on especially knowing that we transfer patients who being brought into South Africa from other African countries. The awareness of our crew's safety is very important too as we all have families to go home too," she added.
"Don't take your job, your life or you loved ones for granted, this pandemic has taken the lives of people some never thought it would," she concluded.