Control The Controllables
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus causing hysteria and panic around the country, the nation’s first responders are finding ourselves on the front lines of both protection of the citizens we’re sworn to serve and the treatment of those who have potentially been infected. What are we doing to protect ourselves though? Our best efforts can all be summed up by the concept of controlling the controllables.
Practically, what does that mean? In all honesty, the chances of at least some of us being infected by the virus are high; but we are being very proactive about remaining response ready by shifting our attention to preventative measures. Simply put, we are controlling the controllables. Here are a few things many of us are focusing on so we can stay healthy and prepared to respond when 911 is called–because throughout this outbreak, that is one thing that cannot be cancelled or postponed.
First, we’re WASHING OUR HANDS…A LOT! We are wearing our appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) on every call and taking special consideration for extra equipment if necessary, based on the nature of the emergency we are responding to. We are limiting our exposure to possibly infected patients (as much as we can); and if we do come into contact with someone who may have COVID19, we are covering their mouths with a mask and reducing the number of emergency personnel who are making contact with them.
On every medical emergency we respond to, the PPE we wear includes disposable latex gloves that protect our hands from bodily fluids because we often have to touch our patients to assist and treat them. After each call, and careful removal of our gloves, we wash our hands as soon as possible and even use hand sanitizer in between calls and en route back to our stations.
Second, we’re practicing GOOD OVERALL HYGIENE ourselves: covering our mouths if we cough or sneeze, and washing our hands again after; wiping down our equipment and gear after use; sanitizing our work spaces on our engines and trucks and keeping everything around the station clean; and monitoring our own health and wellness. We’re all being vigilant about watching for possible symptoms of the virus.
Third, we’re focusing on keeping our IMMUNE SYSTEMS RESILIENT. We’re going back to the basics of what we know helps us stay healthy: we’re doing all we can to get as much SLEEP as possible before and after our shifts; we’re EATING nutrient dense foods and avoiding excess sugar, alcohol and other inflammatory foods; and we’re staying HYDRATED by drinking lots of clean, filtered water.
We’re also being very proactive about managing our own STRESS levels. We’re doing this by focusing our efforts both on and off duty to get quality EXERCISE, staying informed of the latest news (but not getting overly engrossed in it), and maintaining open COMMUNICATION lines with the rest of our crew. We’re keeping things light-hearted when we can, and staying in the moment. All of this helps us remain in a state of readiness and preparation for the next emergency, without anxiety about what we’re about to face.
We understand that when we report for duty, we are putting ourselves at potential risk. There is definitely a degree of stress involved in that realization, both for ourselves and the potential impact it has on our families and loved ones at home. But we are reminded of the privilege we have to help people during times of “crisis’” such as these. We take the responsibility of that seriously and with due regard.
Overall, we know our best protection when we are called to action is to control the controllables. We focus our attention on what we know we can do to protect ourselves and let go of worrying about what we can’t control. Spending your energy on controlling the controllables is actually a stress reliever in and of itself and is the only way tactical athletes can remain ready to answer the call when you need us.
Stay healthy and control the controllables,