New Britain public safety workers reflect on how they were affected by covid over past year

Published on Friday, 26 March 2021 17:58
Written by Catherine Shen


Going into the unknown was one of the biggest challenges for public safety workers when the pandemic first hit in March 2020. A year later, those workers looked back on how they navigated those challenges despite the obstacles.

“The way that we came together as a team really pushed through some tough times and we are so proud of everyone,” said Alex Morisano, director of operations for New Britain Emergency Medical Services. “The emotional piece to this is an enormous part of the experience and for our team to continue to deliver the medical care that we do is amazing.”

Throughout this whole process, Morisano said they have learned a lot of lessons, had to think outside of the box, and come up with tools to protect the staff and create a safer environment.

“The mental impact of being able to come to work for 12 hours in an environment that can be dangerous, then go home to their families, then wake up and do it again, it takes a special person to do that and that’s what all of our employees did,” he said.

Patrick Ciardullo, captain of professional standards and training for New Britain EMS, said the fact their EMT’s and paramedics are willing to walk into the unknown while carrying a sense of uneasiness leads to cumulative stress.

“We’re doing everything we can to give them support, especially mental health services,” he said. “It’s been a long year of unknowns and we’re finally starting to turn a corner. I give our staff the upmost credit and respect because they put their own lives at risk in order to serve every day.”

Matt Marino, captain of the Investigative Division of the New Britain Police Department, said one of the biggest challenges they had was communication and keeping an open mind to everything that was going on, something Police Chief Christopher Chute constantly reiterates because “you never know how everyone else is taking the situation.”

“While we continue to do our jobs, we try to be mindful of others,” he said. From an investigative perspective, communications changed drastically, especially when dealing with victims.

“As part of the process, you’re trying to break down barriers but it’s hard to do that with a mask on,” Marino said. “But we got through it and are continuing to get through it.”

Without having the luxury of shutting down, the key is to adapt through ongoing support.

Lt. Paula Keller of the Professional Standards Division said it’s been difficult being on the frontline without a playbook.

“We were all reacting to this very fluid situation, but our first priority was providing personal protection equipment and keeping our officers safe,” she said. “Then it’s coming up with new protocols, modifying some services, and still responding to calls as usual because that’s what we do.”

Unprotected environments combined with enclosed and poorly ventilated spaces are some notable challenges the Bristol Health EMS encountered throughout the pandemic.

Jodie Kay, paramedic operations supervisor at Bristol Health EMS, said the Bristol Police Dispatch Center established a code to be communicated upon the dispatch of a suspected covid-19 patient which they still use to date.

“Receiving this code has allowed us to mentally prepare for the potential treatment plan we would use on these patients,” she said. “Having this information expedites the PPE and treatment process when we arrive on scene.”

Taking direction from the state and local health guidelines, Kay said the protocols are a clearly defined algorithm that is updated regularly as more information comes in and changes are made.

“Bristol Health EMS continues to focus on delivering up to date and outstanding pre-hospital care to all of our patients through covid-19 and beyond,” she said.

For the Bristol Police Department, the severity of the threat was quickly recognized and workers immediately pivoted to adapt to changes.

Police Chief Brian Gould said their mission and goal would remain the same as their foundation was being challenged, including school closures, community events getting canceled and citizen-police interactions minimized.

“Though we were being challenged, we sought opportunities to ensure that we were not abandoning our community policing philosophy,” he said, which was done through social media platforms and various partnerships with local organizations.

“I credit all the men and women serving the Bristol Police Department. They rose to the challenge, as I knew they would, and overall they performed exceptionally during this pandemic,” Gould said.

Staff Writer Justin Muszynski contributed to this story.

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Friday, 26 March 2021 17:58. Updated: Friday, 26 March 2021 18:01.