ONGWEDIVA – First responders are the first personnel to attend to most emergencies and many times, the survival of a patient in a medical emergency is reliant on the effectiveness of paramedics.
The Coronavirus, known as Covid-19, is the current global crisis; paramedics across the globe are at the helm of this pandemic.
Saara ‘’Debby’’ Mutilifa (23) is an Advanced Life Support Paramedic (ALS) with E-MED and she says she is more than ready to play her part in the fight against the virus.
‘’I pledged to serve even in times like these. For that, I am prepared,’’ said Debby.
Asked how effective the paramedic’s team will play a role in the pandemic, Debby said that as the first line of health care, they rely on history taking and screening for Covid-19 for the aim of triaging, ‘’this helps in making the decision to either transport patients to the hospital or special Covid-19 isolation station. This aids in avoiding the further spread of the virus.’’
Even though paramedics have pledged to serve the patients in any given circumstance, one cannot be oblivious to the fact that they are at risk of contracting the virus.
When asked what measures are in place to ensure paramedics are safe during rescue operations, she responded, ‘’Currently, there is a system in place that has the dispatcher to do a telephonic screening to weigh the possibilities of the patient being infected with Covid-19 or not. But this does not change our operations, as we will still attend to patients wearing our full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).’’
The team continues to adhere to the rules set by the World Health Organisation (WHO): regularly washing their hands like everybody else and disinfecting the ambulance after every call out.
Paramedics have a difficult task because as the first line of health care, they are required to think and act fast on decisions that result in life or death situations.
This is a career that is mostly regarded as a man’s job. However, women are now breaking the barrier and becoming paramedics in this male-dominated industry. ‘’It was very challenging in the beginning; I remember being unemployed for almost a year after graduating, while most of my fellow graduates, who were men, were taking up jobs everywhere, but it is getting better. Today, we have more female paramedic graduates than men. You love to see it,’’ she narrated.
She graduated from the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) with a three-year Bachelor’s Degree in Pre-Hospital Emergency Medical Care.