GED CARROLL is used to being busy. Never more so than now. An 11-1 professional fighter, he combines his boxing career with working as a paramedic. In the coronavirus pandemic that has Britain under lockdown he is on the front line.
“It’s a busy time. Everyone’s getting to grips with it now that it’s real. I think the first few weeks everyone was a little bit lax. I think our generation have got that ‘it’ll never happen to me, I’ll never catch it’ [attitude]. But I think people are seeing first-hand how busy it is and how many people are getting it. Even just mildly, even the mild symptoms are quite harsh at times. It’s taking a week to get your temperature down. Hopefully it’s not here for the long term but from what I’ve seen it’s going to be here for a good couple of weeks,” Carroll tells Boxing News.
“We haven’t even been tested. For all we know we could have it and we could be passing it round. People are just worrying at what they’re seeing obviously on the news and all the articles that people are reading, any minor symptoms people are wanting to get tested to know if they’ve got it. That’s gotten our call rate through the roof. Last Friday we’re coming to 500 outstanding emergencies, which to get through them with the amount of staff that we have got is virtually impossible. We’re just playing constant catch up and every query job we’re going to, query coronavirus, is all PPE [putting on personal protective equipment], it’s mask, gown, the full hit. Apparently they’re running out. I know masks are at a shortage at our end and when you’re struggling to get the right PPE, it’s not hard to start wondering why it’s spreading.”
“It’s just a constant conveyor belt. It’s just one after another. There doesn’t seem to be no let up. Also the amount of staff that are ringing in with symptoms is worrying. I know the first week it was about 50 staff across the North West, it’s quite a lot. It’s quite a lot of staff down,” he added. “I don’t think we were ready for something this big and as rapid as it has been. I think equipment wise we’re way behind because no one ever forecast how quick it’s come and it’s here and it’s only getting worse. It’s not plateauing out for the time being. It’s still increasing day to day.
“Going off projection and what other countries have done, we’re level with Italy day by day. Given the fact that theirs has been quite high, their emergencies and their death toll is quite high. If we’re matching that then that’s only going to have a massive effect on the ambulance service as a whole and the hospitals in general.”
His experience as one of the many NHS workers tackling this crisis suggests that the situation, at least in the near term, will continue to be grim. “I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t get worse,” Ged said. “I don’t think anyone ever forecast something like this in my lifetime.
“The job’s a lot more tiring. Everything seems to be a lot more taxing. There’s no off period really. You get your half an hour for dinner and then a 15 minute break towards the end. On a 12 hour shift when every job’s one after the other it can be quite tiring.”
Normally Carroll doesn’t do overtime for the sake of his boxing training though he intends to in this crisis. However despite his exhausting work as a paramedic and being confined to his home outside of that job, he is training still. He can’t go to the gym but his dad, his former amateur coach, is also providing some padwork. “It’s an hour, an hour and a half away from everything. You can concentrate on yourself and working on things, rather than worrying about what’s going on outside. It’s a good little release for me,” Ged said. “It can be tiring but I suppose no one said it was going to be easy. I suppose I’m quite lucky in a sense as well because the pro boxing has been put on hold at the minute. Some of the lads that’s their only income. I’m lucky enough to have a good job. It’s a tough time for the boxing in general as well as society. Some of them lads provide for their families through the boxing, some of them have had to find alternative ways for income. It’s just a tough time for everyone I think.”
He concludes, “Keep your distance, self isolate when needed and only go out if it’s necessary to be honest… Over the last 10 years the NHS has been really underfunded. Obviously this hasn’t helped in any way. But I never thought in my lifetime and I don’t think many people I work with, I’ve spoken to doctors and nurses and a lot of the staff we do work closely with, I don’t think anyone ever thought on such a grand scale something like this would happen. It just goes to show, we weren’t ready for it, in terms of equipment, PPE and just the general numbers. I don’t think how quick it’s spread we were ready for.”