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Dr Kirstie Ross MB, ChB, MRCEM

Acting Emergency Medicine Consultant

2020 WHAT A B*TCH!! COVID crept up, insidiously. Health staff are used to the press reporting the next medical catastrophe, whipping up fear in the absence of any demonstrable evidence. However, as much as we tried to down play it we couldn’t ignore the peer to peer warnings coming from Italy and Spain. Unimaginable images, apocalyptic like reality in intensive care units of developed countries, played out on twitter.

Long serving, experienced spirits crushed as they struggled to play God, choosing who would die...who hadn’t met the grade for a ventilator... who had been lucky enough to be the right side of 60 and to be given the chance to live.

We watched in fear, this inevitable tidal wave of impossible gut- wrenching decisions, was heading our way. As some senior staff were pulled up into strategic roles, I was promoted to Acting Emergency Medicine Consultant. I was excited to be given the opportunity to prove myself in a global pandemic. This is where we should thrive....we’re the Emergency team, this is what we do. As society was separated, the Emergency Department pulled closer together and exceeded all of the expectations we had of each other.

With the sobering realisation that this was real, we set out our stall.

  • The department was redesigned into HOT and COLD ZONES
  • Structural work completed within 5 days
  • The workforce was split into 4 distinct teams to safeguard service provision by preventing cross contamination between staff
  • PPE was argued about. Toilet role was stockpiled
  • Guidelines were developed and new ways of working agreed.

...and finally, we moved away from our families emotionally and physically. For those of us, lucky enough to stay in our own homes, the emotional disconnect we experienced was surprising and countered only by the camaraderie we felt, as we pulled on our scrubs and stepped through the hospital door.

Ironically, I found freedom in incarceration, camaraderie in isolation and a new thirst for the future as piece by piece our lives, as we knew it, were stripped away.

Then there was the clapping. Oh the clapping, the clapping, the clapping. If ever there was an example of how a simple act of kindness can have a colossal impact, clapping was it. Thursday 8pm Jersey General Hospital ambulance ramp, we stood together as a team.

Bathed in the flashing lights of the emergency services vehicles that stretched the length of Gloucester Street...

We were humbled and we cried together. We cried for the people who died alone. We cried because we were frightened. We cried because we were tired, and

We cried because we were grateful you understood.