Now more than ever, medical professionals are needed on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic. Paramedic students at Loyalist College are one group being recruited to help out.
Nineteen paramedic students from two Loyalist College campuses are starting their careers in the midst of a global pandemic by graduating early.
“When I entered the program in 2018 I had no idea this was ever going to be on the radar,” says Rod Lloyd, a recent graduate of the paramedic program.
Lloyd says once he completes an entry to practice exam, he will start working as a paramedic for Hastings-Quinte.
“For me to be the one that gets to be the line of defence between the public and the disease … it’s a responsibility for sure but it’s something I consider to be a privilege as well,” says Lloyd.
It’s a responsibility that now comes with several hurdles due to COVID-19.
“These students get into this profession because they want to help. These are the students that run to the front lines,” says Vanessa Brooker, the program co-ordinator at Loyalist College.
She says despite her students graduating a few months early from a two-year program, she believes they are well prepared. According to Brooker, many students in the program have a background in emergency services.
“It’s not the unknown for them. They are fully aware of what everything entails in terms of PPE (personal protective equipment), regulations and protocols.”
Protocols have had to be adjusted in order to protect paramedics who are putting themselves at risk every time they respond to a call.
“Any symptoms revolving around a potential COVID-19 patient gets a full gown, mask, face shield, goggles, gloves, to limit the exposure for medical staff as well as the responding fire crews,” says Lloyd.
After years of training, the moment the new paramedics have been waiting for is finally here, risking their lives to help those who need it most.