Mass. teacher starts fundraiser for EMS providers working COVID-19 testing site

After seeing AMR members being mistreated by some people being tested, Carol Forward said she was impressed by their professionalism and inspired to thank them for their work


Douglas Hook
masslive.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — An East Longmeadow High School Music Teacher, Carol Forward, took to Facebook to raise money to make donations after seeing firsthand the professionalism shown by the American Medical Response personnel at the COVID testing site in Springfield shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Operations Manager for AMR Patrick Leonardo told MassLive on Monday that the numbers of people that required testing had grown from roughly 400 when they had opened the site for free testing as part of the state’s Stop the Spread initiative in August, to over 1,500 after Thanksgiving. The number of people coming for testing has stayed roughly around the thousand mark for weeks.

East Longmeadow High School Music Teacher Carol Forward presents a thank-you give to American Medical Response EMT Jessica Wright, one of the AMR staff members who has been testing thousands of people for COVID-19 in Springfield, Mass.
East Longmeadow High School Music Teacher Carol Forward presents a thank-you give to American Medical Response EMT Jessica Wright, one of the AMR staff members who has been testing thousands of people for COVID-19 in Springfield, Mass. (Photo/Douglas Hook, masslive.com)

Forward had been in the queue for a test before she went back to work after the holiday and noticed the way a staff member from the Eastfield Mall, who was directing traffic, showed good nature by joking with drivers as they waited in the long lines that spiraled around the parking lot.

“When we got to the front of the line, the people that were there in front of us were kind of giving the [AMR] worker a hard time,” Forward told MassLive, shocked that they would show anger at the people that are trying to help them get a test.

She said that the people in the car were angered at the fact they couldn’t get the results while they wait and that they had to register before they came.

“I was just so impressed with the professionalism and the positivity of the workers,” Forward told MassLive. “To have to deal with what they’re dealing with was just difficult for me to watch. I felt awful for them.”

During the confrontation with the driver in front, the AMR employee calmly took the person through the reasons the tests take time to come back and the process that is needed for contact tracing. Forward saw that the medical professional was disturbed by the interaction and assumed that this would have some lasting effect on her interaction with him.

“The thing that surprised me was that when we went up there for our test right after that,” said Forward. “We pull up, he just takes a deep breath and then starts over. There was no carry-over, there was no frustration. It was just, “Hi, How are you,” you know?”

She was in the line for over three hours waiting to be tested and was shocked by people cutting in line and yelling at each other.

“It was just very rude,” Forward exclaimed.

She told MassLive that as a teacher part of her, upon seeing such childish behavior, wanted to go out and fix it. This not being possible, she wanted to organize something to give back to the healthcare staff who are risking their wellbeing, physically and emotionally, to help strangers.

She took to the East Longmeadow Facebook group and asked for donations to provide each of the 35 AMR paramedics and EMT’s positioned at the mall.

“That’s a tough situation to be in for eight or nine hours a day, outside in a tent in the middle of late November and knowing that they’re still doing that and still freezing cold and getting worse,” Forward said.

So, wanting to make sure each of the medical staff has a hot meal inside them before their shift, she decided on using the donations to get egg cookers.

“These ceramic egg cookers are basically a way to very quickly make an omelet in about a minute or two in the microwave,” said Forward. “[AMR employees] are out in the cold all day. Who knows what they’re able to grab before they head in. So, if I could give them a healthy breakfast quickly in the morning, I just thought it would be a nice little thank you.”

The egg cookers were paid for by people in communities donating and Forward noted to MassLive that a sizable donation was made by an East Longmeadow consulting firm owner, Jason McDonald, who contributed $500 to the fund for AMR.

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(c)2020 MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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