-I was surprised how serious is the situation here – says dr. Pawel Szczucinski, a psychiatrist and paramedic in PCPM Emergency Medical Team. – It reminds me of Chernobyl. The city is completely empty, and many people are traumatized by current situation – they lost family members and they are frightened that young people are getting infected too. Nowadays deep silence reigns here.
The paramedics support doctors in Brescia, Bergamo region, where over 7 thousand people already died. The number of deaths only here is higher than all active cases in Poland. There are 15 people in the Polish-Italian mission, that started on March 30th. They are members of PCPM Emergency Medical Team and Military Institute of Medicine. – Our colleagues are dying. They are extremely exhausted. We want them to take a tiny break at least. – said just before departure. The team will stay in Lombardy until April 9th.
-We came to Italy just for some time – says dr. Pawel Szczucinski. – We want to help these wonderful people. Italy pays the price for being the first in Europe to witness the epidemic. In addition, some of their great national features, such as openness, social closeness, the need to be in a group, are a burden in the time of coronavirus. For us, it is an important lesson about what to avoid in our country. And about how social distancing and sanitary precautions are crucial.
How did first several hours after the arrival look like? The first task of the doctors was to prepare the place they were accommodated, so it meets all sanitary precautions. They divided the space in order to establish a sluice unit – an area for clothing decontamination. Several implemented solutions made the space safer. Outside the sterilized space where they live, they always wear masks and safety glasses. The virus is extremely contagious, so they try to reduce the risk of infection as much as possible. PCPM paramedics are working over a dozen of hours per day, constantly adapting to changing conditions. COVID-19 patients may get worse rapidly anytime.
When we ask them, what is the reaction of their Italian colleagues, the say: They are genuinely touched that they are not alone. They appreciate our commitment because a friend in need is a friend indeed. Everyone we to talked to, mentioned a large number of friends, colleagues and family members they lost. The local doctors, nurses and paramedics are wonderful, very competent professionals. But they are also deeply experiencing the tragedy that affected their region. The fact that we can be here and support, gives us a lot of satisfaction.
We didn’t stay in the country just to wait for the sharp increase of coronavirus cases. We decided to take actions. Soon we will get back to Poland to fight against epidemics – sums up dr. Szczucinski. – We are really grateful to our Italian partners for the knowledge and experience they shared with us.
You can support PCPM Emergency Medical Team: pcpm.org.pl/ratownicy