You have to ask yourself if this damages more of your lungs or your mind

Apr 15, 2020

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What has been your experience of volunteering in COVID-19? Tell us your story?

When all of this started, back on the 21st of February, I was away for training in the city of Bologna, after the first case was announced, the reaction was immediate and in a matter of few hours, through a growing feeling of fear, I decided to return in Lombardia in Lodi to better understand what was happening first hand.  When I arrived, I had to immediately face 3 major problem factors:

  1. The ignorance that originated fear mixed with rage;
  2. The lack of preparation, it has always been clear to us how to handle emergencies where we act as rescuers and the others are the victims, but this time was not clear (and maybe it is still not clear today) how to manage an emergency where we are both rescuers and victims at the same time;
  3. The lack of information.

From that day onwards, it has been a growing and continuous escalation of necessities that made us promptly react and build an organized structured approach to guarantee health care assistance for all the volunteers and operators affected and involved.

The very first need we addressed was to take care of our team, while they were taking care of the general public victims, nobody was taking care of their health and wellbeing.

Our staff needed information, guidance, healthcare, and physiological support, certainties; the most difficult thing to provide when you are fighting against something you do not know.

How has the coronavirus outbreak changed your daily life?

SARS-COV2 changes one’s priorities, before I thought about what to do after work or a shift and complained about the fact I had to work weekends, now I have only one thing in my mind, find a way to improve the situation, to make things better. You cannot see your parents o your loved ones because you fear you could be the source of the infection, and you want to protect them. SARS-COV2 took away from us the basic and essential thing, sleep, affection even the possibility to go out for a walk for some fresh air. You have to ask yourself if this damages more of your lungs or your mind.

What have you learned from the Coronavirus Outbreak?

As crazy as it may sound, SARS-COV2 allowed realizing what it seemed impossible. The different functions and structures created a network exchanging important information, computerized systems are growing fast allowing everybody to share vital information and enabling cooperation in a climate of solidarity as one team. Volunteers do not look at their uniforms, but they are all working united towards the same common goal. If it’s true that an emergency brings out the real nature of people, we can say that coronavirus brought out the best qualities of all of us.

In the context of Coronavirus, what have you done that makes you proud?

I am proud to be here. I make decisions every day, I ask myself if I am doing the right thing, I am often scared to make mistakes, but I am proud to be here.

If I could turn back time, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

As a volunteer, what is the main challenge during this COVID-19 outbreak?

Make volunteers/staff, accept the importance of the restrictive actions and measures we implemented and the importance of their role handling this pandemic. To succeed into let our rescuers understand that they are not immune from this virus and that, without compliance with these rules, not only they can become victims themselves but also they can become the source of diffusion of this infection.

What have you seen for the first time because of Coronavirus?

Fear in the words of the rescuers.

Dr. Riccardo Giudici
Italian Red Cross Society
April 15, 2020
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