Right now life is weird, the world is changing, somewhat permanently, and it can be really frightening. We are constantly smothered with news, good and bad, new rules and it can be overwhelming. So I want to remind anyone who’s part of the Matriarch community, that this is a community. If you feel lost or overwhelmed or anything in between, this is a platform formed on the basis of people relating to and supporting each other, so please feel free to reach out. And of course, as always, stay safe.
One of the goals for Matriarch this year was to start having members of the community write to develop the community feel and now feels like as good a time as ever to do this.
For our first community post, I am so excited to have Kate Perret write for us. The reason I am so excited is because Kate is my best friend and I have known her for 17 going on 18 years now and it has been incredible to watch her grow up into the woman she is today. Being a student paramedic, I felt like Kate was the person we needed to hear from right now, someone on the front lines of Covid-19.
As a first year student paramedic, the current Covid-19 pandemic has placed me in a very weird position. In the last year, I have had the pleasure, and more importantly the privilege, of working alongside not only my fellow student paramedics and nurses, but also qualified paramedics and ECAs on my placements. I was devastated to find out last week that our ambulance placements had been cancelled. Whilst I completely understand the thinking behind this decision and that the ambulance service and the university want to protect its students, I have really struggled to accept this.
As a result of my training to date, I now have a set of clinical skills which could be deployed in this current crisis, skills that could help. I could help. But I am not able to in my chosen profession.
This became even more frustrating as on the 13th of March I began to display symptoms of Covid-19.
Immediately, I self isolated. I quickly became progressively worse over a couple of days with a persistent cough and a very high fever, along with body aches, fatigue and a headache. I truly felt awful. However, I was unable to get tested as I was not acutely ill and therefore did not need to be hospitalised (for which I am, of course, very grateful). As a result, I do not know and most likely will never find out whether I had contracted Covid-19, despite the fact that my symptoms corresponded precisely to what we are told they are and the fact that I had attended a number of suspected Covid-19 cases on placement. It seems highly likely that it was Covid-19.
I am now allowed out of self isolation and all I want to do is to be able to help the NHS in any way I can. As my placement has been cancelled, I have signed up as ‘bank staff’ at my local hospital. I will probably be asked to work in care support nursing as I am fortunate to have the skills to qualify for this role and am due to start in the next 3-5 days. Going to and from shifts will be the only time I leave the house.
I can’t stress enough how critical it is for people to self isolate, to follow social distancing guidelines. I can completely understand how frustrating it is having to stay in your home, if you feel well. But, please, please remember that it is not only for your own health but for the health of others, especially those who are vulnerable. I am asking you to understand that so many illnesses are ‘invisible’ – you cannot tell whether someone is vulnerable or not from the way they look. Heart disease is not visible; asthma is not visible; diabetes is not visible; Cystic Fibrosis is not visible.
Every time you leave your house you are potentially putting others at risk.
This virus is still not fully understood – we don’t know how long it can live on surfaces or how long it can survive in the air, so if you do not need to go out don’t! It is as simple as that.
If you are lucky enough to be healthy and are able to help in any way, please do. If you have clinical training and skills, it could be in a hospital environment, or you could sign up for the new NHS volunteering scheme introduced by the Government. But however much you want to help, only do so if you do not have any underlying health issues – there are other ways you can help – by staying at home.
Sign up to volunteer for the NHS here: https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS
NHS information on Covid-19: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Edit: Kate is now working in an A&E department as a care support worker.
Kate was that girl who always wanted to help people, whether it was wanting to be a vet or being an incredibly committed charity prefect. And it’s that generosity of heart that’s led her to training at the University of the West of England, Bristol as a Paramedic. When I tell you Kate’s thriving there, I can’t express that enough and it is clear she has found what she loves to do, it’s a vocation and it’s a passion. Student paramedic, generous of heart and an incredible woman.