Workers on the frontline: firefighters

As part of a series on frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19, LookLeft speaks to a firefighter and paramedic about the pandemic, the response, and what the public can do to help.

We cover the majority of the emergency ambulance cases in the Dublin area, as well as firefighting and rescue services, including Road Traffic Collisions. The amount of work we do hasn’t really changed due to the fact that the ambulance services are busy 24/7 anyway. The type of patient we are seeing now though is mostly those with breathing difficulties and COVID-19 symptoms. But we’re still dealing with other more routine cases such as chest pain, strokes and trips and falls.

Do I feel like my employer was prepared for this? It would appear so in our case. We normally deal with the unexpected so are normally prepared with PPE [Personal Protective Equipment]. Hopefully we can stay on top of this throughout the crisis. Our union section committee meets regularly with management to discuss plans and also to give members’ feedback on issues.

Yes, there has been an impact on family life. I’ve been doing extra shifts to provide cover for those self-isolating and on COVID-19 sick leave, so in that respect it’s taking down-time away from us. And also family members are obviously concerned about our increased risk of infection.

The public have been great in most cases but you can see a lot of people out walking or exercising and maybe not keeping the full 2m which can be a bit frustrating but as I say overall it’s been very cooperative.

If I had a chance to speak to the public I’d say the same as everyone else is saying: Stay home and stay safe to help defeat this virus as quickly as possible. But if you need to go to hospital for any reason we’re still here – you should go and not put it off until it’s too late.

In conversation with LookLeft.