We have been battling the COVID pandemic for over a year now. We are all tired and ready for this to be over. We will get to the end of this, and I believe the end is in sight. We cannot, however, lose focus on our priorities or the worst of the pandemic might return. Right now, I think of the pandemic like a forest fire which has almost been put out.
The worst of the fires have been put out, but there are burning embers everywhere. Those embers are ready to burst back into flames without warning. We must maintain our discipline and keep fighting if we want the fire of the pandemic to be completely put out. We must get vaccinated and encourage those we know to get vaccinated. We must wear our PPE and practice good infection control at work. We must mask while in public and maintain social distancing. None of these things are easy, but if we do these things then I hope we can be done with the worst of this pandemic by the end of the summer. Then our communities and our families can get back to normal.
We have all been through a lot. I have held peoples’ hands while they died as their own family members talked to them and cry with them via facetime. I have seen countless EMS personnel and hospital staff go above and beyond to care for patients who will never see their families again. On top of that, all healthcare providers have lived with the fear that they might bring the virus home to their own families. Even with all these challenges we have persevered and done what we do best which is to care for people and make the world a better place. After all the sacrifices we have made over the last year we must keep the pressure on the virus and not let up.
Vaccines, infection control, appropriate PPE, masks in public and social distancing are the tools we have to stop this pandemic. We must use them without mercy as we fight the virus.
Vaccines are the only way to end this pandemic. Both my wife and I have been vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective. Yes, the first dose will give you a sore arm. Yes, you may very well feel pretty crummy for one or two days after the second dose. All COVID vaccines cleared for use in the U.S. are safe and have been through phase three testing. Unless at least 70 to 80 percent of the population gets vaccinated the pandemic will not end. Please get vaccinated and encourage others to get vaccinated. Prehospital providers are leaders in their communities. As a healthcare professional listen to what you say and watch what you do.
Wearing the appropriate PPE while working and following infection control procedures is not easy but they keep us safe and our patients safe. Even if you are vaccinated it is still possible to get COVID and transmit the virus to others. The number of providers who have gotten COVID while wearing appropriate PPE and following the correct procedures is very small. Masks, gloves, gown and eye protection will keep you safe. They will not keep you safe if you do not wear them.
Wearing masks while in public and around our co-workers is very important. Wearing a mask will greatly reduce the chance of transmitting COVID to others if you are infected. A mask will help protect you if you are around others who are infected. Masks will also help slow the spread of the more aggressive variants while we work to vaccinate enough of the population to stop the pandemic. If we do not wear masks and take too long to get enough people vaccinated, then it is possible that the variants could get ahead of the current vaccines.
Social distancing is also very important. It is one more layer we can use to slow the spread of the virus while we wait for enough of the population to get vaccinated. Avoid crowded areas and stay six feet away from others when possible, to make it that much more difficult for the virus to spread.
We must continue to show the leadership needed to end this pandemic. We have already shown the bravery needed to care for patients with a very contagious and potentially deadly disease. We have shown great skill taking care of critically ill COVID patients. Our sacrifices and expert care will not be forgotten. We cannot let up now. We must get vaccinated and help others get vaccinated. We must practice good infection control measures and wear our PPE. We must wear our masks while in public and practice social distancing. Our service and leadership are more important now than ever.