The bravery of Sinn Fein Senator Maire Devine shouldn’t be under-estimated here. She could easily have simply self-isolated with her family and watched the crisis evolve around her. Nobody’s going to blame anybody who just stays at home, watches Netflix, and does their part by social distancing. That is, after all, the whole point of our great national endeavour.
But nurses and doctors don’t have that luxury. Regardless of their personal circumstances, they’re all going to walk into hospitals, every day, and deal with people who are spewing millions of little coronaviruses out of their mouths with every cough and breath. Nurses and doctors are going to get sick. Many of them will have to completely shut themselves off from elderly parents and friends with weakened immune systems. Some of them, if the precedent in Italy and China were to hold here, to its worst extent, will die.
And here’s a woman, voluntarily choosing to risk her life, just to save others. Forget politics, the woman’s a hero:
“There are going to be 10,000 extra [patient] beds needed and people [in charge] of them will need infection-control and basic nursing-care skills, such as taking temperatures and giving bed baths,” said Devine. “Returning nurses could also work as team leaders, either in the community or assisting in testing. There will be a bigger need for that because of the widened criteria for testing.”
She will, of course, not be alone. Up and down the country, hundreds, if not thousands, of retired medical practitioners are voluntarily returning to duty.
Medical exams are being brought forward so as to enable a new wave of doctors, fresh out of medical school, to get a baptism of fire.
It’s very easy to focus on the bad news – and there will be plenty of that over the coming months as the likely devastating economic impact of the present measures begins to flex its muscle, but it’s very important to remember that in the midst of all this doom and gloom, there are people from all backgrounds – and multiple nationalities – who are going to be risking their lives, and their health, to try and save Irish people from the worst of the virus.
When this is over, we should probably consider introducing some kind of national honour for them – we’re not the UK, so we don’t have Knighthoods and OBEs and all that stuff, but as a republic, it’s unusual that we don’t have some kind of formal civilian honour. The French have the Legion of Honour, the USA has the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Ireland should really consider introducing something like a national order of merit to honour those people who go above and beyond the call of duty to help the country and their fellow citizens.
But that’s for another day. For now – thank you, Senator Devine, and thank you to all the doctors and nurses on the front line, preparing for battle.