Ambulance chaplain's daunting role in pandemic
Chaplaincy within the Ambulance Service is a challenging and demanding role to fulfil in normal circumstances but during the Covid-19 pandemic it has become more daunting writes Lynda Logan, Lead Chaplain to the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
At the start of the first national lockdown, chaplains were forced to stop visiting stations and instead, work from home. Maintaining a pastoral relationship with staff, without that much-needed physical presence, has been and continues to be far from easy. Even with the help of a telephone, social media and meetings via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, any pastoral support always leaves a sense of helplessness and a question of whether or not more could have been done.
Many frontline crew have contracted the virus: some have managed to fight it off; some have been left struggling with Long Covid and some have died. Writing so many condolence messages this past year has been a heart-rending task.
Staff have become stressed and worn out. The demand and constant surge is relentless with crew only getting 30 minutes break or down time during their 12-hour shifts. Each day, there is news of yet more staff members contracting this new variant and becoming extremely sick. They fear contracting the virus and passing it to their families. They feel that they are working and living on a war-time footing.
Chaplains’ prayers are being increasingly sought, especially for crew and their families; for the new mother and child, who has been born into a family with Covid-19; for the relative who is not expected to live.
Members of the Ambulance Service, wherever they are nationally, speak of themselves as ‘our green family’. They tend to close ranks in times of crisis and pull together as a family. They are resilient – they have to be. They play down what they experience on a daily basis – more than most people would ever experience just once in their lifetime: their sense of humour is unique.
This past year their ‘green line’ has grown thinner by the day, nevertheless, their professionalism and compassion endure towards patients - whether members of their own green family or the general public – despite their own human fears and frailties. They have and continue to shed many tears over the heart-breaking situations in which they have found and continue to find themselves.
Recently, David Tamarro, an Emergency Care Practitioner (a highly trained and skilled senior paramedic) and a Leading Operations Manager, who works in a large station within EEAST, wrote a poem. Unable to sleep after a shift, he penned his reflections upon working on the front-line and expressed the hope surrounding the roll out of the vaccines. As you read the poem, please thank God for His goodness and pray for all those on the front-line. David hopes that you will feel free to circulate the poem within your churches and networks.
Click here to read David's poem.
Pictured top is a EEAST ambulance outside St John’s Cathedral in Norwich. Picture by Emily Hannant, an Apprentice Emergency Medical Technician. Picture above is Lead Chaplain Lynda Logan.