In addition to the charitable and community support provided by Masons during the COVID pandemic, many have also been on the front line in their professional careers.
In this article we examine how brethren in both the police service and London Ambulance Service have played their part in keeping us all healthy and secure during this difficult period.
Provincial Senior Grand Deacon W. Bro. Peter Swan is an NHS worker, operating as a Clinical Team Manager for the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust (LAS) in Brent.
Pete has nearly 24 years of experience with the LAS and was awarded an MBE in the 2006 New Year Honours list for his role as the Ambulance Incident Officer at the Edgeware Road tube bomb on 7th July 2005.
COVID 19 – A Game Changer –
“COVID has changed my role” said Peter. “For instance, I helped my staff adapt to the protocols to be used when working with COVID patients.”
That includes the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for front line staff, ranging from ensuring the correct fit for their FFP3 face masks to adding to the range of equipment used to include aprons and gowns as well as gloves, which were the most common form of PPE in use before the pandemic struck.
“I also provide support for the clinical staff, by being on the end of a phone should they require advice, talking them through the way they have handled patient care and helping them review how they dealt with the patient, should it be required.
It has been a traumatic time for many front-line staff, and if necessary, I can offer them a referral for counselling should they wish to have it. We have also supported staff who have had to isolate, by keeping in touch and ensuring that they are not forgotten about” added Peter.
Peter’s Almoner’s Role –
This supporting role extends into Pete’s Masonic life, where he is Almoner of Ickenham Lodge, No. 5770, in which no fewer than 20 of the brethren are either current or retired NHS workers, including a Specialist Accident and Emergency Consultant, front line Paramedics and LAS managers.
“They have all been extremely busy at work, as you might imagine, and are physically and mentally worn out. The NHS has very good support systems in place but talking to people who know what you’ve been through can be a big help.”
Domestically as well COVID has had an impact, with Pete’s wife Emma, a Senior Emergency Department Sister at Watford General Hospital.
As key workers they had the choice of sending their children to school, but they took the decision not to send them, fearful of the risk of cross infection for the other children, and so had to arrange their shift patterns to look after them.
What Now ?
As lockdown restrictions are set to ease, what now ?
“Things are not back to normal, but the stress levels are coming down” said Pete. “I am however concerned about the next stage, post quarantine.”
No doubt he is right to be concerned, both about the chances of a second wave but also about the toll on the health of front-line workers as the initial emergency fades.
Reports from Italy show that 70% of health workers are suffering from the mental and physical symptoms of burnout.
Peter added that there are a number of members of other Lodges with the Province, including Alperton Lodge, No. 5548 and Barn Hill, No. 7799, who are also members of the ambulance service.
“They are all working very hard and I am proud to be associated with them all.”
Now, more than ever, our front-line staff need our support.
Middlesex Masons are no doubt playing a key role with their centres of expertise.
A grateful thanks to W. Bro Ian Mitchell for compiling this comprehensive report
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