June 11, 2020

Message from the Chair

I would like to start this newsletter with a thank you to all of the support teams, in the field and in the hospitals, that allow us mission success. These individuals are often in the shadows cleaning the blood off our trauma bay floors, turning over “COVID rooms”, conducting community interviews, providing evidence collection, and patrolling our streets. They look to us as leaders and role models. And, we must make sure we protect them.

Second, I think it is critical that we understand it is important to know when to take a knee. The past 3 months has been challenging, exhilarating, exhausting, and purposeful for our entire community. But, for many, it has also been filled with loss, sadness, confusion and even fear. The “fog of the pandemic” is very much like the initial “fog of battle”. We fashion ourselves warriors. As our teammates continue to deal with high risk warrants and acts of violence, many are also now navigating a new landscape; working at home, caring for our kids and families, wondering if we are bringing the disease back to our homes. It is smack in our face, and challenges our usual defense mechanisms that allow us to keep our families protected from “the badness of work”.

As many of you know, in the first stages of conflict (or pandemic) you are fueled by endorphins and catecholamines. This sharpens the mind…for a while. Then, most of us turn to caffeine, which frankly does little these days, but can sustain us. But, as the battle wages on, there are two types of monsters lurking in the fuzzy areas just at the periphery of our vision: burnout and stimulant abuse. We all have friends and colleagues who responded to mass shootings, like Sandy Hook and Las Vegas, who have seen brutality on the streets, or who have been witness to acts of domestic violence. In these events, the triggering stress is immediate and overt. With the pandemic, the stress is slow burn, always present, eating away at our resilience unless actively managed. It is sometimes harder to admit we need a break. And, that is why we need to look out for each other. At Team Rubicon, one of our leadership mantras is “Change your socks” (that’s what you get when Marine NCO’s run your shop). But it is critical in these times. Look out for your team, be a good leader, and make sure you and your team change your socks.

Finally, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), we will just go with COVID-19, pandemic has created unprecedented challenges across the national security and healthcare environments. For our community, the TEMS providers on the frontline, the challenges span from strategic to operational to highly tactical. That is why I am thankful for Dr. Bradley and the team’s work to bring together the TEMS Newsletter and continue to push out education and training to our community.

David Callaway, MD, MPA, FACEP
Chief of Operational and Disaster Medicine
Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center

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