Paramedic reveals ‘heart-breaking’ moment dealing with coronavirus patients and families

Alison and Tristram Brain. Picture: BBC

Alison and Tristram Brain. Picture: BBC - Credit: Archant

A paramedic has spoken of the ‘heartbreak’ of taking dying patients to hospital without their loved ones because of coronavirus restrictions.

Speaking in a new series of audio diaries on BBC Radio Somerset, Alison Moore, who covers Weston, spoke about leaving families after they have made their ‘final farewell’.

She said: “When you have to convey a patient to hospital and you know that they are highly unlikely to come home, we have to witness that heart-breaking, final farewell with the family in the house or in the back of the ambulance, and then drive away leaving the family in bits.

“I’ve struggled with that massively and struggled with not being able to show any physical compassion.

“You can’t hug a relative when they’ve lost a loved one, and physical touch means so much at times like that, and that’s something that we just can’t do at the moment.”

Alison and her partner Tristram Brain, who is also a paramedic for the South Western Ambulance Service, are battling to keep patients safe, all while home-schooling five children.

Tristram added: “Our children go to school occasionally because they are able to but we try to keep that to an absolute minimum.

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“It’s all about trying to keep them safe. We’ve got a fairly rigorous decontamination regime when we finish work and come home.

“It’s because coronavirus doesn’t discriminate.”

The couple appear in the first audio diary of BBC Radio Somerset’s series Covid 19: Life On The Front Line, which hears accounts from health workers.

Alison said: “Nothing had prepared us physically or mentally to respond to a global pandemic.

“If I’m totally honest it felt overwhelming at first: how to deal with things, the different levels of PPE, the different emotions patients are feeling.

“But the new way of working has – surprisingly - very quickly become the norm.”

Alison noted that despite the difficulties, the camaraderie between crews has been ‘unbelievable’.

She added: “It’s times like this you realise what a family unit we all are at work.

“We’ve come together so much. On those bad days they pull you back up again – there are days that are very, very hard.”