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What life is like as a paramedic during the coronavirus pandemic

Gareth Fox and Ian Jones are paramedics working to save lives through the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

It's just minutes into their shift when paramedics Ian and Gareth are called to their first patient of the day.

They know that the person they're going to is coughing up blood. They don't know whether that patient has coronavirus.

It's been very challenging of late; the constant worry about the virus.

You've got to keep in the back of your mind that it could be coronavirus, so we'll always go in with our PPE... but not everybody with a respiratory problem is going to have Covid.

– Gareth Fox

For weeks, Covid-19 has dominated their working life. They've visited patients who've been seriously ill with the virus. They've also been called to people who've mistakenly thought the ambulance service could offer them a coronavirus test.

A few weeks ago, Ian himself tested positive for Covid-19.

Ian tested positive for coronavirus a few weeks ago but said he only had mild symptoms. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales
Gareth said their job has 'been very challenging of late' because they are constantly worrying about coronavirus. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

I've unfortunately got tested positive a few weeks ago so I've had some real mild symptoms. I'd like to think I'm over that now but yeah it was concerning at the time.

– Ian Jones

Gareth said: "We're unable to socially distance in the ambulance and working together and we have been to the same patients, we have been in the same environment and unfortunately he has picked it up.

"I don't know whether it's luck or whether I have had it asymptomatically I just don't know."

Although PPE has always been part of their job - the paramedics now have to factor in a completely different level of personal protective equipment.

Each of them has their own kit, including a visor and protective suit. And after every time they transport a patient to hospital, the ambulance itself must be sanitised.

Ambulances are cleaned between transporting patients. Credit: PA Images
Gareth and Ian cannot socially distance when they work together. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

By 10:32am Ian and Gareth are on to their next job. This time it's to a patient who's had a seizure.

Adrian Burman has MS and other complicated medical needs. His family are used to him needing regular hospital visits but at the moment, they're unable to go with him.

It is difficult because we can't go in but we appreciate the reason why too.

[The NHS are] the heroes of the country, and we just need them and we love them dearly... but it's as if we don't get to say it enough and we need to say it more.

– Adrian's family
Gareth and Ian have always had to wear PPE as part of their job but now that has gone to a new level.

It's a worrying time. I think it's a worrying time for everyone, [the] general public, all the NHS staff, all the ambulance crews. It adds the pressure onto us but we've had to adapt to it and I think we've adapted quite well.

– Ian Jones

You can see more on this story in Wales This Week: Coronavirus - Our Changing Nation on ITV Cymru Wales at 7pm on Thursday 21 May.