Mobile-based medical reservists trained for combat describe front lines of COVID-19 crisis in Texas | Coronavirus COVID-19 Watch


MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Marcelo Gerjoi and Duncan Crow trained to provide emergency medical services during the battle.

Her assignment in Texas this summer as part of a COVID-19 response unit wasn’t a war, but sometimes it must have felt that way.

“The workload was very, very demanding,” said Crow, who recently graduated from the University of South Alabama. “It’s not your usual hospital shift as many doctors and emergency rooms and even intensive care units have some type of people they interact with and have a workload that they are used to. That far exceeded that. “

Crow and 1st Lt. Gerjoi, a medical assistant who works in the Experimental Neurosurgery Department in the University of South Alabama Hospital System, was among about half a dozen reservists from the 7223rd Medical Support Unit in Mobile who worked for Urban Augmentation Medical, Task Force 7452. He described one dire situation in hospital in Edinburgh, Texas.

“At one point, over 60 people were using ventilators. And there were people who treated these patients, ”he said. “We were only there for special skills again. Thoracic tubes. Intubations of codes and various things. You would be overwhelmed. “

Crow, a graduate of McGill-Toolen Catholic High School from Semmes, said he was a student in South Alabama when he decided to drop out of his philosophy as a minor and study as a paramedic. He later added he had “the crazy idea that I would join the army” and visited a recruiter at Spanish Fort.

In Texas, Crow said, he started working 12-hour shifts followed by two days off. Eventually, he added, his supervisors reduced the shift to two consecutive days of 12-hour shifts because they found three consecutive days were too strenuous

He said he was busy responding to “coding” from patients whose vital functions were crashing. He also said he did everything from performing CPR to assisting with patient nutrition.

“They needed manpower, serious manpower,” he said. “You also needed some serious expertise.”

Gerjoi said it was difficult for his fiancé to do, although he added that she had a dog in his absence. It also meant less time with his son, who lives in Pensacola, which was the reason he took a job in Mobile and moved to Daphne from his home in Marietta, Georgia.

Gerjoi said the team had 36 hours’ notice and the mission was perpetual.

“The hardest part was that we didn’t know how long we would be gone,” he said.

Gerjoi has experienced a side of medicine to which he is not used to from his civil role.

“You know, it’s obviously pretty intense to work in a sub-specialty of neurosurgery. So I’m used to working with critically ill patients, ”he said. “That’s – COVID patients were a challenge for me, something completely new. I don’t do a lot of general medicine that these patients have a lot of problems, very, very, very sick. “

He added, “Unless you are right in a badly affected area, you just can’t appreciate it until you are there and see the many people so sick.”

Crow, who was promoted from private 1st class to specialist during the deployment, said it was a challenging environment.

“It was a little crazy,” he said. “We were in situations like this for a reason. They had a very high need for labor and were hit quite hard by COVID. So you come on the shift and don’t really know what’s going to happen. “

Gerjoi and Crow have both been back in their civilian lives for about three weeks. But with novel coronavirus infections and hospitalizations across the country, both are prepared for the possibility of further deployment.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to get another call,” said Gerjoi.

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