Conscript paramedics help healthcare workers save time

Estonian Defense Forces (EDF).
Estonian Defense Forces (EDF). Source: Janvar Pitelkov/Kaitsevägi

The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) has sent both equipment and personnel to hospitals during the coronavirus crisis with EDF paramedics assisting on simpler procedures and patient transport, helping health care workers save on valuable time.

"We have aided wherever we can," EDF medicine chief Lt. Col. Targo Lusti told ETV's morning show "Terevisioon" on Thursday.

The defense forces have helped in limiting and treating the coronavirus since the first wave, when a field hospital was set up at Kuressaare Hospital. "We also helped during the second wave then the number of hospitalized patients went up, ventilators and oxygen systems is how we supported the country's healthcare system," Lusti said.

The EDF also contributed during the summer with vaccination buses, but Lusti said there was not much interest in the initiative and there was even a day when only three people were vaccinated.

Currently, the defense forces are helping at West Tallinn Central Hospital and the East Tallinn Central Hospital. Conscript paramedics are part of a rotation that goes to the North Estonia Medical Center to aid, as well.

"We have quite a bit of paramedics, but how they are occupied - those on our payroll, they have their daily jobs, which consist of conscript training, security, driving ambulance vehicles. We cannot give them up as easily," Lusti said.

There are 19 conscript paramedics currently aiding the North Estonia Medical Center in Tallinn.

"They can primarily help the medical personnel physically, they can also do some simpler procedures. But turning patients over, moving them, they can certainly change some accessories on the patient, help with that, take them to studies. This is all time that a healthcare worker could use for something else than this so-called more simple thing," the defense forces doctor said.

By offering assistance in a coronavirus ward, a conscript's training differs from normal mostly by the use of masks. At the end of the first wave, trainings were provided on how to use personal protective equipment and hospitals have also asked for help with these trainings.

Conscripts can also refuse going to coronavirus wards, but Lusti said the young soldiers have been enthusiastic about the opportunity.

The EDF has given the West Tallinn Central Hospital ten ventilators and is set to provide hospitals with another 15 in the near future. The Estonian Defense Forces are also prepared to send professionals, if necessary.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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