‘It’s been a challenge’: Sacramento paramedic shares experience treating COVID-19 patients while deployed in New Jersey

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — From hurricanes to wildfires, American Medical Response paramedic and field supervisor Kevin Anderson is used to lending a hand in dire situations.

But this is different.

“It was a little surprising to be quite honest. This is not like any other deployment I’ve been on,” Anderson explained.  “It’s something that we as the caregivers and anybody involved within the community can easily become a victim [to] ourselves.”

Anderson traveled from his home in Sacramento to New Jersey to help treat an influx of COVID-19 patients.

“Our primary mission is we’re augmenting and supporting the 911 system,” Anderson said.

At the request of the federal government, AMR sent 500 ambulances to New York City and New Jersey with roughly 1,600 workers.

At Anderson’s base in New Jersey, they’ve served around 6,500 patients in the last two weeks. Most of them, he said, are suffering from the coronavirus. 

“Many times they’ve either already passed or to their point where their survival rate is not viable. So yes, there has been a larger mortality rate than most crews are used to seeing,” Anderson said.

They’re wearing protective gear, including masks, at all times and sanitizing ambulances frequently to lessen their own risk of catching the virus.

It’s an emotionally and physically taxing job. 

“It’s been a challenge to be quite honest with you,” Anderson said.

But he knows they’re needed now perhaps more than ever and he’s relying on his loved ones for support.

“I think I’m at seven wedding anniversaries that I’ve missed while deployed. So, I’m very lucky to have a very supportive wife that understands,” Anderson said.

Within the next week, Anderson expects to come home to Sacramento where he’ll continue to help in the fight against COVID-19.

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