“WHEN you get that call, it’s terrifying. You just don’t know what you’re going to face when you get there.”

Those are the words of paramedic Laura Story-Makin from Bostock who is about to head back out on to the front line as the NHS continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re having to be brutal and make difficult decisions about who we will take to the hospital. What we don’t want to do is put an already vulnerable person into a potentially even worse situation,” she says.

The 30-year-old, formerly from Kingsmead, has been a paramedic for four-and-a-half years. She works for the West Midlands Ambulance Service, which serves the Royal Stoke University Hospital, and has always loved her job.

But like many of her NHS colleagues in the current crisis, Laura is fearful for her own health and safety.

“I absolutely love my job, it’s amazing. I have never not wanted to go to, or be in work, but it’s really hard to describe what it’s like just now," she says.

“It’s absolutely relentless, we are so incredibly busy. Everyone I have spoken to on the front line is exhausted, anxious and scared. We all have PPE (personal protection equipment), but you’re always scared in case it’s not good enough.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s in the back of your mind that you could die from this virus. It’s like no anxiety you could ever imagine, and everyone is feeling it.”

Winsford Guardian: Laura, pictured right, with a fellow paramedic colleague.Laura, pictured right, with a fellow paramedic colleague.

Which is all the more reason for people to stay home as ordered by the Government and to observe the social distancing rules when they have to go out in public.

“It is a horrible, horrible virus and some people just aren’t taking it anywhere near seriously enough,” says Laura.

“You don’t know if you’re going to get ill, you don’t know if you’re going to die, and I think unfortunately for some people, it’s going to take one of their loved ones dying to make them realise.”

Laura says public support has been a huge boost for her and her colleagues during this unprecedented time.

“We’ve chosen this career, we’ve trained to save lives, it is our job but it is exhausting and relentless right now.

“The Clap for Carers was overwhelming. The response was amazing – it was a boost that was really needed. It gave me goose bumps.”

Despite working 12 hour shifts ­‑ four days on, four days off - and forgoing her forthcoming annual leave with her husband Jack to support her colleagues, Laura still counts herself lucky. 

And like so many in the caring profession she’s concerned about the mental health impact that will unfold during this crisis.

“I’m actually very lucky. I’ve got a job, I’ve got money, I'm safe in that respect. I can get out and walk my dog Molly. Some people don’t have any of this now and I worry about the mental health impact of this ­– I think we could see a lot of suicides.”

If Laura has one message to the public, it’s to stay safe and observe the social distancing rules.

“We need everyone to follow these rules to give us a chance of fighting this virus. The rules are for a reason – to help us save lives.”