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Coronavirus makes the job more stressful, tiring, say EMS workers

Published: Dec. 10, 2020 at 6:56 PM CST
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - A recent study from EMS1 reports emergency medical service workers are more likely to die from coronavirus than firefighters, police officers, nurses, or doctors.

“Stress levels are extremely high,” Taylor said.

Southern Oklahoma Ambulance Service Director of Operations Jeff Taylor said the increase in COVID calls has been extremely taxing for his staff.

“EMS is a physically and mentally demanding job to start with,” Taylor said. ”You add more stressors like the coronavirus pandemic, and knowing that you can catch it from anyone, at any place.”

First responders aren’t just worried about catching the virus.

“We’re under a really high level of stress right now. With the increased numbers, we also have to worry about taking it home to our families,” paramedic Kolton Blakely said.

EMT Logan Hartman agreed.

“Right now I’m not even staying at home,” Hartman said.

Everyone at SOAS, even administration, has been working more to make sure someone is available to respond to emergencies.

“It’s just a lot more turnaround time, a lot more stress, a lot more work. But we’re still doing every one of the calls that we did before this,” Hartman said. “We’re just adding a lot more on top.”

16 SOAS employees caught the virus several weeks ago.

“The people who haven’t gotten it [have] to pick up the slack,” Blakley said.

As local hospitals fill up, EMS have to transport patients further distances, sometimes even five hours away.

“We’re in a system now of being an EMS to where its at the breaking point,” Taylor said. “These systems are running to where they are overburdened and under resourced.”

Hartman said the days feel longer.

“You get a lot more tired after a shift to having to deal with it,” Hartman said. “You get home and you’re just exhausted.”

Blakely said he thinks the job is worth it.

“That would be nice to take time off for a break, but you know right now that’s not really an option,” Blakley said.

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