Battling COVID-19 as a volunteer EMT

One of our colleagues finds a way to help directly combat the COVID-19 pandemic as a volunteer EMT.

May 11, 2020

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In response to the pandemic, Merck has changed its volunteer policy to support employees like Tom with nursing and other medical backgrounds. Recognizing the need for additional health care professionals, including doctors, nurses and medical laboratory technicians, to assist in regions where COVID-19 is spreading, on March 21 the company deployed a new program to enable our medically trained employees to volunteer their time to aid their communities while maintaining their base pay.

With the COVID-19 pandemic making an unprecedented impact both globally and locally, many in our community are eagerly seeking ways to help.

One of our colleagues, Tom McGrew, associate director, business consulting for MMD Digital Strategy, has been a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with the Clinton, New Jersey, First Aid and Rescue Squad for four years. As the pandemic spread, Tom saw the expansion of our volunteerism program as an opportunity to help even more. The expanded program supports employees around the world who are uniquely qualified to provide medical services and wish to aid communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As soon as I saw that, I took it to my manager and said, ‘Hey, what do you think? I’d love to help out more,’” he recalls. And in no time, he’d identified a daytime shift the Clinton team needed covered. Tom has been an EMT for nearly 14 years, starting as a volunteer in high school. But with the COVID-19 pandemic raging, the work has changed, from protocols for contact with patients to required gear when a call is suspected to be coronavirus-related.

“Overall call volume is down, but the number of COVID calls is drastically increasing. It’s been very different,” Tom says. “After a call with a suspected case, we have to put our ambulances out of service for a brief period of time as we disinfect and sanitize.”

Covid-19 Infographic

With such a unique situation presented to EMTs and other first responders, Tom says the efforts of the entire community have been a huge help. “When you pull into the emergency department in the ambulance, you see all these chalk messages saying, ‘stay strong’ and ‘we’re in this together,’” he says. “You really pull together and find support through what the community is doing.”

Tom has recently returned to our company after a three-year absence, and this kind of support for volunteering efforts is a big part of why he was so eager to return. “Programs like this are the things that made me realize what a strong culture Merck has, and it has made it just very refreshing coming back,” he says. “Merck’s commitment to patients and global health is just awesome.”