In the front line of Arkansas

Tami Poole works at the Ouachita County Medical Center (EMS), in Arkansas, Camden, USA. Employed as EMT since March 2015. Most of all she runs to emergent calls for medical and trauma emergencies, makes emergent transports for medical and trauma to higher level of care hospitals located 2 hours out. The Ouachita County Medical Center Ambulance Service is a team of EMS personnel that is ready to respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The team answers approximately 3,000 calls per year. The Center has 5 ambulances that are Advanced Life Support and 2 that are Basic Life Support.
Tami  (52) is married, has 3 daughters (31, 27, 17 in ages). Shee started as an EMT in March of 2015. Prior to becoming a medic, he was a police officer (Sergeant) and detective for 15 yrs in Camden AR, USA. She spent 2010-2014 working in Iraq, Jordan, Palestine and Israel as an international police advisor/instructor. She left law enforcement to Pursue her child hood dreams of being a nurse. She will start an RN nursing program this fall. She will still keep a paramedic license and still work in emergency health care, and to next step will be flight medic/nurse.

„The reaction of the public to the emergency show up in several things that affected us. The community really came together to support area hospitals and EMS. The community has helped out tremendously by offering meals, homemade masks, and discounts on certain restaurants. We seen a considerable drop in call volume for ambulance runs. The people did not call for an ambulance unless it was a serious medical or trauma. Our hospital warned the public not to come to the ER unless it was life threatening. No visitors are allowed for hospitalized patients regardless. But since some of the restrictions have been lifted recently, we are seeing the none sense calls pick back up.
At my workplace since the appearance of the COVID-19 virus I don’t see much change in attitude towards patients so much as I see attitude change towards the hospital administration who were caught unprepared for this pandemic. Because of financial restraints, hospitals, many in rural areas (less populated cities) were not prepared for the pandemic and struggled with personal protective equipment for staff. Not because they were negligent, but because they have to make budget cuts throughout the years, our hospital did not have the proper personal protective equipment in the beginning, because there was no demand for that equipment in the past (in massive quantities needed for covid) what was on hand was non effective. Running out of important supplies such as proper masks. Every N95 mask owned by the hospital was expired and non of them have the rubber bands were dry rotted and broke. We cannot be in the hospital without face mask. Hospital has to make “homemade” sanitizers. The Covid-19 pandemic brought the people in EMS closer because we were pretty much left to fend for ourselves and our protection. But we now have the proper personal protective equipment.
No policy changes have been made but emergent medical practices have changed when it’s a suspected covid patient. I would highlight the policies, that we have been recently fitted for respirators. ALL patients that have to be coded/intubation, aerosol breathing treatments (updraft, nebulizer/Bipap) medic and EMT MUST wear the respirator. IF a positive Covid patient is transported to higher level of care the crew must wear a tyvex suit and respirator. Some documenting has changed on report forms including Covid screening and prior to shift and after shift we are required to document our temperature.
Most definitely puts all health care workers in a stressful situation because of family and the risk of bringing the virus to loved ones. I believe healthcare workers are more apt to be more obsessed with staying away from public gatherings and are more aware of the sterilization of everything around them. But we don’t have any community based outreach program for this particular break out. As for EMS needing mental help, but I think the majority are fine. I am in a much smaller area population so I can only speak for our area. We do discuss everything with family, friends and colleagues.
I think there is more to this virus then what is being told by the media. I do believe the virus was intentionally integrated back in November and December of 2019. Many of our hospital staff were very sick and the symptoms were identical to the COVID-19 symptoms. Everyone was tested for the flu (all had flu vaccinations which is mandatory) but no one tested positive for it. The symptoms lasted for two to three weeks and every single patient/health care personnel that got sick, said they have never been that sick. Some even said they have had the flu in the past, and this “sickness” was much worse.
I don’t see where this pandemic will change much in the future of hospitals or EMS. I think, the benefit of this situation is nothing other thanmore and proper personal protection supplies. I hope hospitals see just how unprepared they were for the protection of their employees as well as for patients. I hope to see they take preparation for employee safety for future outbreaks.”