Thanking First Responders; News From the Front Lines


Berkeley, California – March 17, 2020 – The CARESTAR Foundation extends a profound message of appreciation to all first responders, doctors, nurses, ER staff members and others stepping up to care for the community during this evolving situation. The stress and risk for this population has been enormous.


Board member Joseph Chiang, MD, an ER doctor, gives us a window into first responders this week:


“There is a combination of heightened mental and physical stress with any patient encounter now, as you think, do I need extra precautions to stay safe?”  

“There’s also a lot of concern about protecting our families. If you treat someone who is positive for the virus, what can you do? Some practitioners shower before they go home, wipe down surfaces in their cars, change clothes in the garage, and don’t allow kids in the car.”

“It’s human nature to look out for you and your family. But people don’t realize that hoarding (i.e., masks) is also taking supplies that are needed by those caring for all of us. Perhaps those who have additional personal protective equipment can consider donating these to local adult family homes, senior centers, or other places where high risk patients interact.”

He says that supply shortages have put great pressure on the medical teams. “The testing kit situation is getting better, but there are still huge shortages of N95 masks, which are critical. It’s one thing to go into battle with full armor, but another thing with only half the armor you need.”


Overall, however, Dr. Chiang says that he is inspired by how local responders have reacted to the crisis. “Morale for most nurses, physicians, and EMS crews is still pretty high. I see leaders rising to the occasion, on top of their other work, and I see a lot of altruism.”


For the public, here are some tips from Dr. Chiang to help our medical teams:


HOARDING: It’s human nature to look out for you and your family. But people don’t realize that hoarding (i.e., masks) is also taking supplies that are needed by those caring for all of us. Perhaps those who have additional personal protective equipment can consider donating these to local adult family homes, senior centers, or other places where high risk patients interact.


CALLING 911: If you have something that can wait till morning, call the number on the back of your insurance card before calling 911. Be mindful: it’s not a taxi. Your call could keep the unit from a true emergency. Every time EMS providers see a patient, they have specific stringent steps they have to follow, including tests, and a deep clean of the rig.


FLATTENING THE CURVE: Another reason sheltering in place, practicing hand hygiene and social distancing is so important: the virus is seasonal, and only survives in a specific temperature range and latitude. Delaying some of the outbreak until the weather is warmer, in mid to late spring, will really help providers, patients, and the community.


About the CARESTAR Foundation

The CARESTAR Foundation was founded as a result of the sale of CALSTAR (California Shock Trauma Air Rescue) and honors CALSTAR’S legacy and lifesaving work in the field of emergency and trauma care. CARESTAR’s mission is to strengthen connections and foster partnerships in California’s injury prevention, emergency response, and trauma care landscape to improve outcomes for all Californians.