Emergency responders administer help, they don’t ask for it. It’s part of our culture that’s not healthy. I’m afraid there’s going to be a lot of psychological fallout for EMS, docs, and nurses in NYC after this pandemic. Dr. Breen’s suicide was a pretty obvious red flag.
See, we take pride in our ability to deal with the worst possible emergency’s while remaining calm and knowing what to do. And although this is a highly developed skill, it’s not a superpower. We are still vulnerable whether we choose to admit it or not.
Part of the problem in treating COVID patients was this: because it had never been seen before in humans, there were no algorithms for how to treat it. There were no case histories to guide us, so everyone was figuring it out in real time. And although the knowledge base is increasing daily, it left everyone who responded to the first wave navigating dangerous currents without a map. With so many dying, it left everyone responding feeling helpless in the face of an existential threat. But feeling helpless is exactly what we aren’t trained to do.
Because NYC was the perfect storm, the virus’s spread was exponential, overwhelming everything in its path. Books will be written on this pandemic and everything that went wrong, but right now I worry about my colleagues.
We all have to seek help – this is not a sign of weakness.
It’s a sign of strength.