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One Year On

by Rev. Dr. Michael Killoran Ross

Chaplain


Today, we mark a sombre and sad anniversary. One year ago today, the Prime Minister announced the first ‘lockdown’. A little understood and malignant virus had entered forcefully into our collective consciousness and our lives were changed forever. One year ago today, we began to witness mounting illness and destruction, culminating in what has, to date, amounted to 150,000 deaths across the United Kingdom. One year ago today, we saw ourselves pushed to the limits of physical and psychological endurance, in our communities, across the NHS, in the Scottish Ambulance Service, and in our own lives.


It has been an exhausting and, at times, demoralising time for the Scottish Ambulance Service. Every member of staff throughout the Service has been challenged in unimaginable ways. Battling through the constant demands of delivering quality patient care, in dangerous and threatening circumstances against a viral enemy has been a brutal experience. The cumulative first-hand experience of the life-threatening effects of the pandemic, standing side-by-side with terrorised patients and families has been, at times, seemingly impossible, at other times, traumatic. But there have been no options, there have been no opportunities to turn away from enduring and desperate need, there has been no respite in this fevered war.


Today, we reflect on the past year. For some, that will mean wondering how we managed to get through this at all. For others, there will be difficult memories and images of particular patients in particularly poignant situations. There will be thoughts of colleagues, team members, who have suffered with COVID, for those who have died, for friends, family members affected. There will be sadness, grief, frustration, and even anger at the unjust nature of this horrible ravaging disease.


We have all witnessed remarkable acts of selflessness and bravery during this incredible time. Nationally, we witnessed a hunched, resolute little man stride purposefully across his garden day after day, finally raising in excess of thirty million pounds. We have seen NHS staff work above and beyond the immediate demands of their professions. We have seen colleagues persist against all odds in providing the most humane and sensitive care possible. We may have even surprised ourselves at our own willingness to work beyond what we may have previously thought possible.


Communities have rallied together, offering multiple examples of voluntary support for the most vulnerable, shopping, collecting prescriptions, offering a kind word of encouragement. We have seen some of the best of humanity played out during this worst of times. Perhaps we have seen a resurgence of love in our world. We have been forced to think of others, to reconsider the ways in which we spend our lives, our recreational times, our times with family and friends. We have been forced to slow down, to take some time, to simply be.


As we look back and reflect over the past year, we also look forward with uncertainty. We know that we are not completely through this pandemic yet. There will be more to come. However, today is the day to mark this moment in history, to mark what we have been through, to learn what we can from this unparalleled experience and to approach the future with as much hope as we can.

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