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Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Student heroes heed call for help in Covid-19 fight

VOLUNTEER: EMS student Andria Willemse is a volunteer at provincial Covid hotline VOLUNTEER: EMS student Andria Willemse is a volunteer at provincial Covid hotline

As the global community continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, our health workers have emerged as the heroes of this crisis. Among them are many of our very own CPUT students who are working selflessly to help others. Some are risking their own lives at the front lines.

Students from the Department of Emergency Medical Sciences have heeded the call for help by health authorities by manning the ambulances and the recently and at temporary hospitals. Others have volunteered to assist in various non-clinical roles such as manning the telephones in the call-centre.

This week we are telling their stories in their words. This is the story of Andria Nerine Willemse, a volunteer at the Provincial Covid hotline:

“I am a fourth-year Bachelor of Emergency Medical Care student and as such it has been a privilege for me to volunteer at the Provincial Covid hotline. When the opportunity arose to offer our help to the community by volunteering, I did not hesitate. Our role in the Covid hotline call centre is to take calls and provide advice under the supervision of professors, doctors, nurses and paramedics.

Disaster Risk Management, a fourth-year rescue module, teaches students the various roles paramedics can occupy during a disaster, how systems work, and includes the basic understanding of the Disaster Management Act. Being part of the call centre team, you work hand in hand with the disaster management staff as well as police and traffic officers for guidance on legal matters. This provides an invaluable opportunity to gain insight into how operations are coordinated with the different departments.

In the office, we all continue to motivate each other during these uncertain times.  Being a paramedic student, it is in my nature to provide help to the community where I can but since our clinical practice module has been placed on hold because of lockdown, this seemed to be the only way I as a student could contribute during this pandemic. We are a few students from different medical fields volunteering at the call centre. This has provided us with the chance to have educational discussions about the virus and our experiences in the call centre over the past weeks.

As time has gone by and the lockdown has developed it has expanded the expectations of the call centre and increased the amount of calls encountered daily. The world is dealing with a virus where the research is changing and updating daily, leaving communities in a vulnerable position. This, to their credit, does not stop our first responders from doing their job the best way they know how to, which makes it my priority to do my part at the call centre the best way I know how to. It can be rewarding but it can also be overwhelming. This is uncertain territory that we are treading on, and it is scary in different ways for each individual, but I have decided not to let that stop me from doing what I love in the best way possible. Since Covid-19 has been declared a pandemic, the world as we know it has changed.

As a student I know it is difficult to stay motivated during this time but let’s keep the steam train running.

Keep safe!

Wash your hands and wear your masks."

Written by Ilse Fredericks


Provides coverage for the Health and Wellness Sciences and Informatics and Design Faculties.