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Being on the frontline and continuing to respond to medical emergencies during a global pandemic has been "a challenge" for paramedics.
Ambulance Victoria's Suzie Bradford has been a paramedic for 13 years, but the last 18 months have been a completely different world.
Ms Bradford has always worked in the Grampians region, starting her career up in Ararat before moving to Ballarat after a few years.
Throughout the pandemic, she predominantly worked from the Ballarat Ambulance Station and the Sebastopol Ambulance Station.
She is currently working as the Emergency Management Planning Coordinator for the Grampians Region. This covers the entire Grampians region, through to the South Australian border.
Through statewide lockdowns and soaring case numbers in Victoria during 2020, paramedics have continued to work on the frontline to help community members in need of an emergency medical response - whether they have experienced a stroke, cardiac arrest or been involved in a car accident.
But to do so, they have needed to protect themselves from catching the virus as well as the community from the spread.
It has certainly been very challenging for paramedics over the last 18 months, as well as all frontline health workersSuzie Bradford
"It has certainly been very challenging for paramedics over the last 18 months, as well as all frontline health workers," Ms Bradford explained.
"But I am incredibly grateful for the dedicated and hardworking team who work alongside me in the Grampians region."
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, paramedics have starting using new equipment and have adapted and included additional processes.
"There are a few extra things we have to do to ensure that we are protected and our patients are protected," Ms Bradford explained.
Every day paramedics undergo pre-shift health checks before they venture out in the community and have any contact with patients.
Ms Bradford said one of the biggest changes had been wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).
"The PPE has definitely been a significant change for us as paramedics.
"Throughout the pandemic we have been wearing PPE to all cases, with an added level of protection for suspected or potential COVID-19 cases," Ms Bradford explained.
"This includes splash proof gowns or overalls."
Paramedics must change their PPE after seeing each patient, as per Ambulance Victoria guidelines.
Ms Bradford said she was grateful for having the support and equipment required to stay safe at work so she can continue doing what she loves - looking after her community.
At the state emerges from its fifth lockdown, paramedics are continuing to wear PPE and will continue to for some time yet.
"We are continuing to wear PPE and follow safety procedures," Ms Bradford said.
"It means we do look a bit different when we arrive and interact with our patients but it's vital that we keep ourselves and our patients safe."
Paramedics must also follow prescriptive decontamination procedures after transferring potentially infectious patients, including of ambulances.
Ms Bradford encouraged the Ballarat community to continue to get tested if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, and to get vaccinated if possible.
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