Covid-19 numbers are peaking all around the world. During this second wave, we are seeing the highest levels of infections and deaths since the first case was logged, just about a year ago. For those on the frontlines, the past 11 months have been exhausting and emotionally challenging. Back in April 2020, Milénio Stadium spoke to some of the workers who were facing the pandemic day after day. Almost a year into the Covid-19 scenario, we check back in with one of our testimonies. Firefighters Association of Ontario’s president, Kevin McNeilly, tells us how the last months have felt like.
Milénio Stadium: By the time of our last interview, the Covid-19 pandemic had just started. Now, almost one year later, how are you and your team, as frontline workers, facing this second wave?
Kevin McNeilly: Fire first responders have quickly adapted to any or all new changes as they presented themselves over the last year. I feel that the unknown of how bad the second wave will be and for how long always plays in the back of everyone’s minds, but accurate information and constant communication with staff is key.
MS: Looking back, when it was a whole new situation for all of us, there were many uncertainties, fear of what would come next or what strategies would be best. Do you feel like these initial fears have dissipated or are they still present?
KMN: I don’t believe there is really a fear factor. It is more about the ongoing changes and adapting to those changes. Firefighters have always been able to quickly adapt. Overall, this has now become the norm and fears have dissipated.
MS: During all this time, have you felt enough support from our community leaders and politicians? Do you agree with the decisions they are making?
KMN: In the beginning it was more about protecting our workers and finding the proper protective equipment but, from a political stand point, they are doing the best that they can as this pandemic is huge.
MS: What changed and how did you adapt your work strategies to continue facing the pandemic?
KMN: Very strict protocols were implemented for employee protection and on scene operations, which were activated in the beginning as well as in the second wave.
MS: We know the pandemic has been exhausting for most frontline workers. How has it affected you, mentally and physically?
KMN: I think, in the roll of fire chief, this pandemic has occupied a lot of additional regular time. But we are adapting.
MS: From your perspective, do you see people cooperating to get through the pandemic and respecting the safety protocols? What should change in order to get past this level?
KMN: I think the majority of people have endured this event and they have been following the rules. However, there are some who are the reason this second wave has exploded to what it is and, until there is compliance with the rules, this may go on for a longer period.
MS: What advice would you leave to our communities?
KMC: The vaccine is on its way and, hopefully, it will bring an end to this pandemic. But in the meantime, follow the rules!