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Suddenly, the world is facing a threat that was only previously depicted in science fiction books and movies, and in simulation exercises of events we thought we would never actually see in our lifetimes. The COVID-19 pandemic has, within a few months, affected everyone on the planet in one way or another. Despite talk of “preparedness,” we were not ready. Everyone feels underprepared and underprotected.
Emergency Medicine’s role in this crisis is crucial. Each and every one of us has been called to contribute. We cannot deny we are frightened. Nevertheless, across the spectrum of emergency care, physicians, nurses, paramedics, advanced practitioners, administrative staff, technicians, transport and domestic support teams are all rising to the challenge. Wearing whatever personal protective equipment (PPE) we are told is the latest fashion, and fearing that we will catch the disease, or worse, spread it to our loved ones, we have assumed the front line for assessing, diagnosing, resuscitating and sorting the increasing number of equally frightened patients coming to us with what may or may not be COVID-19. In many institutions, it has been the ED that sounded the alarm that more space would be needed to manage these patients and keep those who are not infected separate from those who are. The combination of experiences and skills that emergency medicine professionals, many of who have voluntarily worked in disasters, limited income countries, the military and other challenging environments, as well as the more mundane but challenging work creating a safe and an orderly flow of care in crowded EDs, has served us well. Ever-changing directives about what to wear, who to test, how to clean do not bother us. We are used to a sudden surge in our volume due to a major car crash, terrorist attack or sporting event. We are …
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