NEEDLES — Alayna DeLeon felt the calling to use her nursing skills in New York and help out their situation.
“I was sitting in the unit of my now former employer’s department listening to everyone talk about the infamous ‘coronavirus’ and I didn’t want to talk about it. I wanted to be about it,” said DeLeon. “I have always felt the calling to serve my country. With 9/11, I was too young, the same with Hurricane Katrina and then in 2006, I became a left below-knee amputee and felt that a person like me couldn’t do something like that.”
When DeLeon told her family she was going to New York, she received nothing but support. She arrived in New York on April 3 and is not projected to come back to Needles until June 23.
So far, it’s been a life-changing experience but
DeLeon said that it’s been a career-changing experience as well.
“I never knew the things I was capable of achieving. I am the type to always hold myself back because I was afraid and there just wasn’t any other position for me except go to New York to challenge myself physically, mentally and emotionally,” said DeLeon. “Stepping out of my comfort zone was not easy, but my desire to help was stronger than my fear.”
DeLeon is working in the emergency room in a Level 1 trauma center in The Bronx. She said she sees anything from COVID-19 cases to victims of gunshots, stabbings and motor vehicle accidents.
“The experience has been different, to say the least. People sometimes two and three in a room for one, no IV pumps to hang critical drips to keep hearts beating and blood pressures from dropping, essentially keeping people alive, the amount of personal protective equipment worn daily, no time to eat, no time to drink, not even any time to think,” said DeLeon. “For goodness sake, we had to intubate (inserting a breathing tube and support breathing with a machine) patients in the hallway. At one point in time, we had to manually ventilate patients using a bag and our own hands until another ventilator became available,” DeLeon continued. “The hardest part, though, was the people that didn’t make it and were going to die and had no family at their side; it was just us.
“I have witnessed too many final breaths in the last 21 days and this experience has changed my life forever.”
Considering the situation in New York, DeLeon said she is doing well.
“Then there are the times where we lose people the same age as me or younger and it just hits me like a ton of bricks that no one is safe from this killer. At times, I laugh and try not to let things bother me, then there are times where I am riding the bus home from a long shift and can’t help but shed a few tears despite how hard I hold them back,” said DeLeon. “It scares me. Not just about me getting sick, about my family, my parents, my grandparents, my mentors and people I look up too.
“No one is safe from this virus.”
DeLeon said she is thankful for all the support that she has received.
“I have received support through social media, texts and phone which is just what someone doing this kind of job can appreciate,” she said. “I also would like to say although things seem to be getting better if we are not careful, we can be looking at a second wave of this and we might not be so lucky to have as few casualties as we have.
“Watching trucks and boats line up from people out of state is disheartening. It’s like people don’t get it. Why must someone near and dear to you get sick, God forbid, pass away, before you can get this through your head? This virus chooses anyone and anything to live through. Stay safe.”