Paramedic couple stares virus in the face daily

Tayla Harvey and Daniel Lister are a dedicated paramedic couple from Buffalo City Metro.
TEAM EFFORT: Tayla Harvey and Daniel Lister are a dedicated paramedic couple from Buffalo City Metro.
Image: MADELEINE CHAPUT

Spending most days in an ambulance or at the office, and almost always on call, local paramedic couple Tayla Harvey and Daniel Lister have seen the best and worst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There’s no denying the pandemic has been difficult and mentally straining on everyone. Managing an ambulance service during these times is extremely stressful,” Harvey said.

She and Lister have managed Red Alert EMS since its inception in 2017.

Lister said ensuring staff and patients were safe, healthy and protected during the pandemic was extremely taxing.

“From our side our most challenging times come with trying to make sure we keep our almost 30 staff members  and all patients safe, whether it be trying to source the best PPE for staff or making sure we constantly have enough equipment and oxygen with the current shortages to make sure our patients receive top-class service during these times,” said Lister, who has been a paramedic for 13 years.

Transporting patients to hospitals and putting in long hours of dedication, Harvey said she and Lister had dealt with many Covid-positive patients in the past few months.

“We’re not really worried about getting Covid, but we are worried about passing it on to our families and to others,” said Harvey, who has been in the field for three years.

Almost always at work, whether in the office or on calls, Harvey said the couple had given up on trying to have a normal routine, instead dedicating their days to running the ambulance service.

“We personally don’t work shifts per se as we are constantly on call or if anyone needs our help.

“During the day we go into the office and sort out all the background work that goes into running a service. If it’s a busy day we jump on a bus and do calls.

“We can definitely say that not one of our days are ever the same. We never know what will happen or where we will be needed,” Harvey said.

She added working as a couple was  mostly exciting.

“I think most days it’s exciting. As all couples do, we can give each other grey hair sometimes but I firmly believe that we’re the best team to work together.

“Because we work on a bus together we know exactly what the other one wants and needs without even saying it, which makes our patient treatment that much better,” Harvey said.

Lister said he and Harvey were grateful to be able to share their passion for the job with each other.

“I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world,” he said.

Harvey said having the opportunity to help others was what kept them going.

“I think we both became medics for the same reasons —  to help people and have the chance to hopefully save or change someone’s life in anyway we can, big or small.

“We face many challenges, whether struggling to extricate a patient from a car at an accident scene or mentally preparing to tell a family they have just lost a loved one.

“But there are also many highlights, like seeing a new mom’s eyes light up as we get to show her the baby born in our bus, or being able to tell a family you’ve managed to get their loved one back for one more moment with them.” 

 

  • Harvey and Lister are nominees for the Daily Dispatch and Johnson & Johnson’s new Front Line Hero award sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. This is a new category added to the annual Local Heroes campaign, which seeks to honour individuals working on the front lines during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    MadeleineC@dispatch.co.za

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