Jessica Sings-Up For NHS fundraising Hero Captain Tom

A talented member of Welsh Ambulance Service staff has played her part securing a number one hit single to honour an incredible NHS fundraiser.

Jessica Griffiths, an ICT and Health Informatics Support Officer  based in St Asaph was one of the performers on current UK chart-topper You’ll Never Walk Alone, released by international musical star Michael Ball and the NHS Voices of Care Choir.

Jessica Griffiths,
ICT & Health Informatics Support Officer,

The song is to honour war veteran Captain Tom Moore, 99, from Bedfordshire, who set out to raise £1,000 for the NHS by walking 100 lengths of his garden before his 100th birthday. 

His story captured the hearts of the nation and his efforts went on to raise a staggering £25 million pounds for the NHS.

It all started when a colleague of keen singer and performer Jessica tagged her in a Facebook post appealing for singers who work within the NHS to come forward for a project.

Jessica said: “My colleague Keighley Molson tagged me in the post around 3pm last Thursday (April 16) and by 5pm I had received a backing track to sing to and been told Michael Ball was behind it.

“They said the song was going to be mixed overnight, so it was all a bit urgent.’

“I sat in my car at home with my phone and laptop and recorded myself singing so as not to disturb the neighbours.”

Captain Tom Moore

The very next morning the song was debuted on Radio 2’s Breakfast Show with Zoe Ball and the reason behind the collaboration revealed along with its celebrity creator.

“It was a really emotional moment,” said Jessica.

“I had no idea it was for the amazing Captain Tom and to hopefully get him to number one for his 100th birthday.”

Captain Moore will turn 100 this Thursday, April 30.

Later that Friday, the 40 NHS contributors were all invited on to a Zoom tele-conference call to meet each other.

Jessica said: “We were all on the call having a chat and meeting each other when Michael Ball popped up in the middle and thanked us all.’

“He even asked if we’d all be up for meeting and performing the song once it is safe to do so again.’

“We sang the song together and this is how they recorded the video. Again it was put together overnight and played on television the next day.’

Michael Ball and the NHS Voices of Care Choir

“I never thought it would be so successful and I’m very proud to be part of it” Jessica said.

Jessica, 28, from Prestatyn, is a keen performer and member of the Rhyl and District Theatre Company as well as singing in a duo at weddings and events.

Captain Tom Moore has since been honoured with a Royal Mail postmark which reads: “Happy 100th Birthday Captain Thomas Moore NHS fundraising hero 30th April 2020.”

Coronavirus Emergency Appeal: Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex Needs To Raise £535,000

Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) has launched a Coronavirus Emergency Appeal to raise vital funds for its life saving service.

KSS needs to raise £535,000 to ensure it can continue to provide world-class fast-response medical care to the sickest and most critically injured across the Kent, Surrey and Sussex regions.

In addition, the charity is now also working alongside the NHS and South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) to transfer critically ill Coronavirus patients between hospitals in its local regions.

This is the most important appeal KSS has ever launched. Never in our 30-year history have we had to call on public support with this urgency … Together we can save the lives of those who need us now more than ever.

The KSS Coronavirus Emergency Appeal has been triggered by a shortfall in its core funding due to the cancellation of major fundraising events, combined with the increased costs associated with operating a safe service during the Pandemic, with full infection prevention controls for its crew, patients and aircraft.

KSS has needed to invest in specialist equipment and protective wear to ensure its staff have the necessary resources to stay safe and can continue to save as many lives as possible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Commenting, David Welch, CEO said: “This is the most important appeal KSS has ever launched. Never in our 30-year history have we had to call on public support with this urgency.’

David Welch, CEO,
KSS Air Ambulance Trust

We are steadfast in our commitment to continuing our primary service at this time and are also fully committed to working on the frontline of the Coronavirus pandemic when called to do so, while ensuring the safety of our patients and our crew.’

“However, we need help from our inspirational and generous supporters in order to deliver these services.’

Like everyone, we are facing unprecedented times, and fundraising is incredibly challenging. As a charity, we are completely reliant on the generosity of our donors and supporters, with 89% of the £14M we need each year to deliver our life saving service being raised or donated by the public we serve.’

“We could not operate without you and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. But we now urgently need your help. Please donate today to help KSS care and save lives.’

“I thank you on behalf of each and every patient we treat and care for. Together we can save the lives of those who need us now more than ever.”

KSS has outlined a number of items that the organisation needs as part of its Emergency Coronavirus Appeal:

  • £7.50 could fund 9 sets of disposable moisture repellent coveralls
  • £35 could fund 200 fluid repellent surgical masks
  • £50 could fund 50 ventilator filters for infection control within the aircraft
  • £620 could fund a Versaflo respirator to help patients to breathe and protect them from hazardous substances

Donations can be made online at

MDA’S National Human Milk Bank Saves a Premature Infant Prior to the Offical Opening

Two weeks ago, Magen David Adom’s National Human Milk Bank was contacted by Carmel Medical Center in Haifa with the request to urgently supply safe breastmilk for a premature baby; due to the mother’s medical condition she could not breastfeed the infant.

Although the operational agreements have not yet been finalised between the Human Milk Bank and the Ministry of Health, the health Ministry, MDA’s Deputy Director General of Blood Services, and the MDA Director General approved the supply of the much-needed milk for the premature infant.

This is the first baby in Israel to be fed milk from the MDA National Human Milk Bank in an attempt to save lives.

For nearly two weeks, the baby has been fed human milk from the National Milk Bank, donated by several mothers for the purpose of nourishing premature babies.

Prior to being distributed, the milk underwent all the required testing and processing by the MDA National Human Milk Bank, and has being kept at a temperature of –80°C.

By feeding the baby with the human milk along with the dedicated treatment from the team at Carmel Medical Center, his condition has significantly approved.

Liraz and Gl Carmeli with their newborn child

Liraz and Gal Carmeli, the baby’s parents, emotionally thanked Carmel Medical Center, Magen David Adom and the milk donors, saying: “Only thanks to the donors, our baby can eat and digest food.’

“We hope our personal story will open a door for more babies to receive milk from the Human Milk Bank, which is so crucial.”

“The baby was in a life-threatening condition because he was fed with a formula  which he was unable  to digest,” explained  Dr. Sharron Bransburg-Zabari, who heads the Magen David Adom’s National Human Milk Bank.

“The nursing team, by following world-wide medical recommendations, understood that the baby should be provided with human milk.’

“And indeed, after receiving the approval from the Ministry of Health and supplying the milk, there was a remarkable improvement in his condition. “

Dr. Ayala Gover, Deputy Director of Carmel Medical Center, added: “When we realized that the baby was seriously deteriorating as he was unable to digest the formula or be breastfeed by his mother, it was clear to us that he needed safe human milk.’

“With the help of the National Human Milk Bank of MDA, Dr. Sharron Bransburg-Zabari and the Director of the Mother and Child Health Department of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Dina Zimmerman, we received a generous donation of safe human milk, and to our immense joy, his condition has improved significantly and he is eating and gaining weight. “

Director of the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at Carmel Medical Center, Prof. Avi Rothschild commented: “This is the first milk donation supplied by the National Human Bank directly to an infant in need. There was a breakthrough in the “glass ceiling” on human milk donation in Israel.’

“This is due to a combination of Dr. Sharron Bransburg-Zabari’s good will, removal of administrative barriers by Dr. Zimmerman along with a neonatal intensive care unit willing to do whatever needed for the well-being of premature babies.”

The nursing team at Carmel Medical Center’s soon to be opened National Human Milk Bank

MDA Deputy Director General- Blood Services, Prof. Eilat Shinar said:”The National Human Milk Bank was established by MDA almost two years ago, at the request of the Ministry of Health.’

“This is to regulate the supply of milk to premature babies in Israel, to prevent the development of intestinal necrosis, which can cause severe morbidity and even mortality.’

“At the Milk Human Bank, set up at the Magen David Adom station in Jerusalem, with the assistance of the MDA Friends Society in Australia (NSW) and other donations, hundreds of ready-made bottles of milk are ready for premature infants.’

“We are currently waiting to finalise the various agreements that will allow us to start fully operating the bank, to save the lives of premature babies, and preventing serious life long illness.”

MDA Director General Eli Bin stated: “Magen David Adom, as Israel’s national emergency medical and blood services organszation, works to save lives in a variety of ways.’

“In this case, even before it was opened, the Magen David Adom National Human Milk Bank provided safe and optimal human milk, donated by mothers who have been through a special approval process.’

“We were excited to hear about the significant improvement in the baby’s condition, and we hope we can continue to save the lives of more babies as soon as possible.”

Female EMTs In Palestine Work Fearlessly To Meet Corona Head On

Safiya Al Balbisi and Aziza Awad, PRCS EMTs, have been roaming the streets of Tulkarem in the Northern West Bank for the past 40 days, offering assistance in the context of COVID-19.

Al Balbisi, a skillful ambulance driver, has spent the past 23 years working with PRCS and was the Society’s first female EMT and ambulance driver.

Speaking about her experience with PRCS, she said: “I have worked as an EMT for a long time and have gained a lot of experience on how to deal with patients, including those in critical condition.’

“I am not afraid of transporting suspected COVID-19 patients because I follow all precaution measures: I wear protective gear and respect protocols in terms of disinfecting ambulances and EMTs.’

“However, what I fear is unknowingly transmitting the virus to my family, especially to elderly relatives”.

PRCS Paramedics In PPE

Speaking about the protocol for handling suspected COVID-19 patients, Al Balbisi explained that they are transported in close coordination with the Palestinian Ministry of Health which determines to which healthcare facility they are to be taken.

Ms. Aziza Awad said that what drove her to become an EMT, a profession she is passionate about, was her desire to save lives.

“Traditions preventing women from becoming EMTs should be chased away. I encourage young women to work or volunteer as EMTs, especially given that female EMTs are essential in certain situations”, she added.

Speaking about the handling of suspected COVID-19 cases, Awad said: “As soon as we are dispatched, all information is provided to us by PRCS Central Emergency Services (101 Call Center) and we liaise with the MoH via the Palestinian Preventive Medicine Services in order to ensure all necessary measures are taken”. 

PRCS adheres to all COVID-19 prevention and control measures and has provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to its crews as per agreements with the Palestinian MoH.

TRB Starts New Production of Face Visors for Healthcare Workers on COVID-19 Frontline

Face visors are vital to protect healthcare workers and other essential personnel

TRB Lightweight Structures is using its material science knowhow and specialist equipment to produce vital personal protective equipment (PPE) based on the Foster + Partners design in the fight against COVID-19.

The company has redeployed personnel and machinery that normally create advanced composite components for electric vehicles to produce an innovative reusable face visor, and is now generating 1,000 of these per day.

Effective PPE is an essential part of efforts to slow the transmission of the coronavirus between individuals, and is particularly important for healthcare workers who are in close contact with patients.

Unfortunately, the unprecedented demand for PPE caused by the global pandemic has led to shortages in almost every country.

To help meet some of this shortfall, TRB has adapted its expertise and kit cutting equipment to manufacture face visors for the NHS.

The company is now in full production and able to make one face visor every 50 seconds.

TRB’s Felix Otomewo and Clint Boa Amponsem using the companys Zund cutting system to produce the first batch of 3000 face visors

This simple, reusable face visor has been created by London architects Foster + Partners, with an open-source design aimed specifically at fast mass production.

Richard Holland, Managing Director of TRB, explained: “These face visors can be produced quickly and easily with kit cutting technology, using the same expertise and equipment we would normally apply to making carbon fibre and composite components.’

“As the momentum grows, more local composite companies are getting involved. These companies, including TRB, have the capacity to produce a combined total of between 10,000 and 15,000 visors a day once funding is secured to purchase sufficient raw materials for high volume manufacturing.”

If you are looking to source face visors, please contact

Video Technology Launched To Help Clinicians Treat North East Patients

Patients will soon be able to speak to ambulance service clinicians via video thanks to new technology being introduced by North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).

NEAS is making use of Attend Anywhere software to allow ambulance staff working in the community to seek advice from clinicians working within the Emergency Operations Centre via video link.

This will also be used to speak to patients who require advice but may not need an ambulance to attend to them. Building on this, the service will then be expanded to the wider health system, including care homes.

The new system is one of 17 projects which NEAS has been working on since being chosen as one of three ambulance services to join the national Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme back in 2018.

Clinicians in emergency operations centres are able to liaise directly with Paramedics working in the community

Video conferencing will be rolled out at NEAS in the following ways:

  1. Clinical advice for staff: Newly qualified paramedics will be able to use the facilities to speak to specialist paramedics for clinical advice and reassurance whilst on scene with a patient who they think can be safely left at home without needing to travel to hospital.

    This support was previously carried out as a telephone conversation, relying heavily on vocal descriptions; using video instead will allow staff to use visual cues in their clinical decision making.
  2. Patient support: After going through the triage system on either NHS111 or 999, patients who need to speak to a clinician may be given a secure link via text message, which will take them through to a video call on their smart phone.

    Patients without a smart phone can instead be given the link for their computer or tablet.
  3. Specialist support: The system also has the potential to be used by other specialists, such as the NEAS Hazardous Area Response Team and Great North Air Ambulance, to see whether their services are required on scene, ensuring their specialist skills are reserved for patients who need them most.

Paul Aitken-Fell, lead consultant paramedic at NEAS, said: “As the regional ambulance service, NEAS forms a critical part of the care process, bridging primary, secondary and acute care.’

Paul Aitken-Fell,
Lead Consultant Paramedic,

“We only touch patients for a short period of time, with little knowledge of their medical history but often in their most desperate times of need.’

“It is therefore vital that we ensure we are informed as much as possible when we are needed.

“The initiatives we are pursuing through this programme, such as video consultation, are helping us to make better use of technology to improve the care and treatment decisions our clinicians make for our patients.’

“In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever that we are able to offer ways of being able to keep patients safely at home and reduce unnecessary ambulance attendances and referrals to hospital and other providers.’

“One of the hardest jobs for a clinician working within our Emergency Operations Centre is the inability to see a patient and therefore having to rely on what they are being told over the phone.’

“This inevitably means that they sometimes have no choice but to dispatch an ambulance just to get a pair of eyes on a patient and make sure they’re ok.’

An example of the video calling interface

“The ability to see patients face to face via video consultations therefore means we can potentially reduce ambulance callouts, freeing up our clinicians to see more patients.’

“We believe it may also mean we see a reduction in referrals to other providers, thereby freeing up appointments in the wider system and reducing the wait for people who need those physical appointments.’

“And, for our newly qualified paramedics, it means they will have improved access to clinical support to help them deliver high quality care for every contact whilst also reducing unnecessary hospital admissions.”

The aim of the GDE programme is to join up and digitalise health systems to provide clinicians with more timely access to accurate information and support service change, thereby improving patient care.

NEAS was chosen to join the GDE programme in recognition of its track record of digital delivery, which included being the first ambulance trust to deliver NHS111 services, being the first ambulance trust to roll out airwave radio and communications system service wide and being the first NHS111 provider to deliver region wide electronic GP bookings.

Other projects which have either been completed or are in the process of being implemented as part of the GDE programme, include:

  • Developing a common message to allow ambulance systems to digitally pass patient information to hospital systems supporting the transfer of care process;
  • Creating a central directory which provides NHS providers with real time information about services available to support a patient;
  • Capturing a patient’s NHS number as part of their 999 call, without delaying treatment to the patient, to provide clinicians with access to additional information relating to the patient’s previous symptoms and treatments and to transfer information to other services, such as GPs following an ambulance call-out;
  • Developing simulation software to identify the impact of system changes, both internally and externally, to ensure resources match the needs of the service;
  • Developing a messaging and collaboration platform for informing ambulance staff about their compliance with best practice and informing them of changes;
  • Introducing barcode tracking to better manage medicine and stocks on vehicles.

Ambulance Service Condemns #Unacceptable Assaults

#Unacceptable assaults on emergency services staff tackling the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic will not be tolerated: South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is warning the public.

More than 100 SWASFT staff including frontline paramedics and 999 call handlers experience violence and aggression while on duty every month.

Recently, a man was jailed for 20 weeks last week for coughing in a paramedic’s face, and in another unrelated case a woman was charged with assaulting a paramedic who was called out to treat her. She is due in court later this month.

Now emergency services organisations are uniting together to highlight this #Unacceptable problem faced by staff across the region during the COVID-19 crisis.

They warn that action will be taken to prosecute offenders and protect staff.

Ken Wenman,
Chief Executive Officer,

Ken Wenman, SWASFT Chief Executive said: “Our ambulance crews and control room staff are working tirelessly on the frontline to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.’

“I am so proud of and thankful for them all.’

“Any verbal, mental or physical assault against an emergency services staff member or key worker is completely unacceptable.’

“Sadly we received 1330 incidents of violence and aggression towards our staff in the last year, which is an increase of 16% on the previous year.’

“Unfortunately these incidents have continued during the COVID-19 crisis when our staff are working in an extremely challenging environment to protect and save lives.’

Jennifer Winslade,
Executive Director of Quality and Clinical Care,

“We support whatever action is necessary to protect our staff from harm and ensure those responsible for any attacks are prosecuted.”

Jennifer Winslade, SWASFT Executive Director of Quality and Clinical Care, said: “Our staff are subject to abuse and aggression every day while trying to provide fantastic care to patients. In March we saw a significant increase in aggressive behaviour towards our staff. This is #Unacceptable.”

The ambulance service is encouraging people to support the #Unacceptable campaign by sharing supportive messages on social media.

It is also reminding people to follow the national guideless of staying at home, maintaining social distance and practising good hygiene.

New Mental Health Initiative Launching To Support Emergency Services

On Friday 17 April a new mental health initiative is being launched to ease the pressure facing emergency services during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) staff will be supported by mental health clinicians from Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) and Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) with NHS111 calls and frontline response. 

Working on a rota basis, the mental health clinicians will respond to NHS111 calls from people experiencing physical health needs or requiring a mental health crisis response, as well as providing advice to paramedics attending mental health related calls to help reduce unnecessary transfers to emergency departments.

Helen Embleton,
Urgent Care Pathways Lead,
Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV)

Urgent care pathways lead at TEWV Helen Embleton, who is currently volunteering on the mental health support service rota alongside her Trust role, said: “The current coronavirus situation has increased the demand placed on emergency services.’

“As part of the Integrated Care System (ICS) we have worked alongside NEAS colleagues and other NHS mental health providers and commissioners in the region to develop a pragmatic and prompt solution to address this and to ensure those in mental distress are able to easily access the help they need.’

“This initiative supports work within the Trust to make sure people can directly access mental health support and learning from this will inform longer term service developments.’

“We are excited to implement this new way of working which will benefit those experiencing mental health difficulties in the region. ‘

“Over the last couple of years we have been focussing on delivering a responsive mental health crisis service and this is an excellent example of how agencies can work together to support one another and improve pathways for people who need support and advice to manage their mental health and wellbeing at this difficult time.”

NEAS mental health lead Stephen Down said: “We anticipate that as the COVID-19 pandemic goes on, the number of patients experiencing anxiety and distress is likely to increase.’

“To help people access the right help, the mental health support service will offer a listening ear and signposting provision to those in distress.’

“By providing the right support at the right time, we hope to save people from having to be conveyed to accident and emergency departments or waiting days to see their doctor.’

“We also aim to offer support and guidance to staff on scene with people who may need additional emotional support at this very difficult time, hopefully reducing the need to convey those people to hospital.”

Mental health programme director for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS), Gail Kay added: “It has never been more important for us to come together as healthcare providers to support each other and ensure the people requiring support and advice to manage their mental health and wellbeing receive the best possible response.”

Saving Eyesight In The Time Of Corona

The Eye Clinic at Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva in partnership with United Hatzalah and with the assistance of the municipality of Beer Sheva and the Lions Club of Israel has begun a program that allows elderly residents of Beer Sheva to receive their Avastin treatments close to their homes. 

This unique service is being offered to residents of Beer Sheva and the surrounding area who suffer from a variety of maladies that require Avastin treatments to receive the treatment without having to physically show up at the hospital by utilizing a mobile “treatment room” inside a United Hatzalah ambulance.

The ambulance travels to the home of the patient and the procedure is done inside the ambulance by members of the eye clinic. 

The treatment is normally an in-clinic procedure for macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal vein occlusion.

Patients suffering from any of these illnesses are required to receive this treatment once a month.

Photo Credit: United Hatzalah. Staff from the eye clinic stand outside a United Hatzalah ambulance.

Without the treatment, patients will gradually lose their eyesight and may even go blind.

Due to complications with the Covid-19 Coronavirus, as many of the patients who require this treatment are high-risk, many patients are unable to come to the hospital clinic to receive the treatment.

Thus the need for a mobile treatment center with clinic staff that could come to the patients and provide the treatment for them at home.

This partnership is the first of its kind in Israel.

A doctor and nurse from Soroka’s eye clinic arrive at the patient’s home in one of United Hatzalah’s ambulances in a clean, safe, and sterile environment allowing the treatment for the patients to take place.

Senior Physician from the Optometry Center in Soroka Medical Center Dr. Noam Yankelevitz spoke about the special project: “On a regular basis, our eye clinic treats patients for a wide range of retinal diseases, utilising various methods, one of which is eye injections.’

“In an effort to prevent irreversible damage to the eyes of our patients who cannot come in person to the hospital during the current crisis we created this unique partnership that brings the medical clinic to the home of the patient themselves.’

“We perform the injection in the ambulance outside the patient’s home and bring this necessary service to them.”

Head of the Beer Sheva Chapter of United Hatzalah Eliah Tubul said: “In partnership with the Soroka Medical Center, we are enabling elderly patients and those with eye illnesses to continue receiving their treatments and are preventing the deterioration of their medical conditions.’

“The major challenge was maintaining the sterile environment surrounding the patient when they received the injection.’

“It is for this reason that we are using an ambulance which is thoroughly cleaned. We are making sure that it is as clean as an operating room.’

“We are very proud of this project and when the patients thank us for our help, we feel a tremendous amount of satisfaction.”

One Nurse Replaces An Entire Medical Team Stricken With Corona For a 48 Hour Shift

By Gilad Hadari,
United Hatzalah Volunteer

My name is Gilad Hadari, I live in a small town named Elon Moreh.

My town is nestled in the hills of Samarai, near the city of Nablus. I’m a divorcee and I have three young children whom I was supposed to spend the weekend with. After all, it was my birthday.

But my plans changed dramatically on Friday afternoon after I received a phone call just before Shabbat began from the head of the Bnei Brak Chapter Ephraim (Effy) Feldman.

Effy and I have known each other for a while as I have been volunteering with United Hatzalah for close to 12 years now.

Effy knew that I was a registered nurse and that I have experience working in a nursing home. He asked if I would be willing to come down to Bnei Brak, some 70 kilometers, (or 44 miles away) in order to take over for the medical staff of a nursing home.

The staff had all called in sick as many of them had contracted Corona or were in forced home isolation and there was no one to manage the home until more staff could be found.  

On Thursday night, the city of Bnei Brak was put on lockdown by the Israeli government due to the rampant outbreak of the Covid-19 virus that had permeated the city. The disease was taking its toll among the staff of this nursing home and throughout the city.

Officials in the Health Ministry speculated that 75,000 residents of the city have the virus and there simply aren’t enough testing kits to get to them all. So many are left untested.

The IDF and the Home Front Command took over running the city. No one was allowed in or out without their travel being deemed absolutely necessary. 

It was into this bedlam that I ventured. Effy sent an ambulance to transport me from my home to Bnei Brak. Due to it being Shabbat, and according to Jewish law, I wasn’t allowed to take any non-essential items with me.

No personal belonging, no food, just my phone as I would need that to communicate with the Social Services and Home Front Command and update them about what was happening at the home over the course of Shabbat.   

When I arrived at the home I found that I was the only medical staff at the location. The manager of the home was there, and he and I were alone.

He had no medical training and was not allowed to perform even the most basic medical tasks required by the patients.

There weren’t even any available Auxiliary staff.   

70% of the residents in this nursing home are invalids. I grabbed the files of each of the patients and went over them one at a time to familiarise myself with who needed which medication and what medical conditions to expect etc.

After running a quick inventory, I realised that we didn’t have enough masks or full protective gear for me and the manager to make it through the weekend. 

I called Social Services and the Home Front Command and told them that I needed a lot more supplies.

There was no food for me personally, and patients needed their diapers changed. Some hadn’t been changed for 12 hours.

Sometime later a nursing student from Ichilov hospital came and we worked together tirelessly until 2:00 a.m. when he said he had to leave so he could make his shift the next day at the hospital.

I was once again alone together with the manager of the home. He came with me and over the course of the night we attended to each patient’s needs, and I prepared all of the medication for each patient according to their chart.

However, I relied on the manager to tell me which patient was whom. We went person by person and made sure that everyone was comfortable and received their proper meds. 

In the morning, another nurse arrived for an eight-hour shift. We worked together and continued providing care for the patients. But then she too left.

After that, I was on my own until Sunday night working and caring for the patients non-stop. There were no other medical or auxiliary staff present.

Usually, the nursing home has a team of four nurses and numerous auxiliary staff, but all of the staff who was supposed to work over the weekend had contracted the virus or were in home isolation due to being in close proximity with someone who had.  

By Saturday morning, I had two people whom I suspected of having contracted the virus. I based my suspicions upon their displaying symptoms associated with the disease.

I contacted the chief officer of the medical station in the city and requested two ambulances be sent to take these patients to Tel HaShomer Hospital.

In the end, one person had contracted Corona, the other person didn’t. This caused the medical centre to send testing teams to test all of the residents.

I too was tested, but my test was “lost” and therefore when everyone received their results on Saturday night (thankfully everyone else was negative) I didn’t get any results at all.

After calling to inquire what my results were I had been told that my test had never made it to the lab but was lost on the way.

I continued caring for my charges over the course of the next day as well. I provided medication for those who needed it and assisted others with their basic needs as well.

Gilad preparing medication at the home for the residents

Over the course of Saturday — a day when religious Jews traditionally don’t use the phone — I received 250 phone calls from worried family members, the Home Front Command, the IDF, and Social Services from the city all wanting to know what was happening and what was needed.

Often when I told them what was needed they said that they will do their best to provide it but didn’t really follow through. I had to make do with what I had.

On Sunday night I was relieved by a skeleton team. I had been awake and working for more than 48 hours. I went home and slept for a few hours and then went shopping.

I’m trying now to get myself tested but my medical clinic told me that if I am not showing active symptoms then they won’t issue a test for me as tests are scarce throughout Israel.

The ambulance service, which is also conducting testing has told me the same thing.   

On Monday, I finally got to spend some time with my children who all asked me how my weekend was. There was no real way to explain to them what had transpired.

My children range in age from 4-6-years old. I was wondering what to tell them and the only message that came to mind after such a weekend was: “It is always important to help others whenever you get the chance.’

“Just like I save lives as an EMS first responder, I also save lives as a nurse and that is what I was doing over the weekend.”

My children all looked at me and gave me a big group hug before running off to play some more.

While it wasn’t ideal for me to miss my weekend with them, in time they will understand why I did it. That may be the most important message that I could ever teach them.