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zReportage.com Story of the Week #748: TUESDAY August 4, 2020: INVISIBLE ENEMIES, by ZUMA Press Newspaper San Antonio Express-News photographer Lisa Krantz and Reporter Marina Starleaf Riker, who followed an EMS crew over a 24-hour shift, sometimes riding in the ambulance with the paramedic and patient. They observed as paramedics for Superior Mobile Health, a private ambulance company, transported patients to hospitals across San Antonio, including multiple who were ill with COVID-19. Riker interviewed paramedics, emergency medical technicians and upper-level managers to understand how the pandemic has strained EMS services. Ambulance crews respond an average of once an hour to transport COVID-19 patients. For paramedics, it's a daily battle against two invisible enemies: the virus and burnout. Welcome to: INVISIBLE ENEMIES
© zReportage.com Story Summary: zReportage.com Story of the Week #748: TUESDAY August 4, 2020: INVISIBLE ENEMIES, by ZUMA Press Newspaper San Antonio Express-News photographer Lisa Krantz and Reporter Marina Starleaf Riker, who followed an EMS crew over a 24-hour shift, sometimes riding in the ambulance with the paramedic and patient. They observed as paramedics for Superior Mobile Health, a private ambulance company, transported patients to hospitals across San Antonio, including multiple who were ill with COVID-19. Riker interviewed paramedics, emergency medical technicians and upper-level managers to understand how the pandemic has strained EMS services. Ambulance crews respond an average of once an hour to transport COVID-19 patients. For paramedics, it's a daily battle against two invisible enemies: the virus and burnout. Welcome to: INVISIBLE ENEMIES
Superior Mobile Health Paramedic GEORGE LOMBARDO transports a COVID-19 positive patient from a smaller emergency hospital to a larger facility in San Antonio. The coronavirus pandemic compounds the stress these front-line responders deal with every day as they respond to accidents and deliver emergency care to patients suffering strokes, heart attacks, broken bones, lacerations and other conditions.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
Superior Mobile Health EMT DOMINIQUE SHARP, left, and paramedic GEORGE LOMBARDO take a COVID-19 positive patient out of a hospital to transfer to home hospice care in San Antonio. The patient died a few minutes into the transport.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
Superior Mobile Health EMT DOMINIQUE SHARP and GEORGE LOMBARDO take a COVID-19 positive patient out of a hospital to transfer to home hospice care in San Antonio.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
Superior Mobile Health paramedic GEORGE LOMBARDO wipes his forehead after removing his personal protective equipment after transporting a COVID-19 positive patient in San Antonio. The temperature was 106 degrees during the early evening transfer.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
Superior Mobile Health paramedic GEORGE LOMBARDO arrives at an assisted living facility to transfer a patient. As dusk fell, Lombardo was about fourteen hours into his 24-hour shift.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
Superior Mobile Health paramedics KATHERYN WIEDING and GEORGE LOMBARDO take a patient into a larger downtown hospital from a Southside emergency hospital. Ambulance crews respond at least once an hour these days to transport COVID-19 patients to hospitals, long-term care facilities or to their homes, where they are sometimes destined to die in hospice care. On the worst days, ambulances went on runs an average of once every 24 minutes, according to city data.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
Superior Mobile Health Paramedic GEORGE LOMBARDO talks with concerned family members of a patient outside a downtown hospital. The virus has infected almost 36,000 people here and the death toll is more than 300.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
Superior Mobile Health Paramedic GEORGE LOMBARDO and EMT JENNIE PHILLIPS transport TEODORA SOBRINO, a COVID-19 positive patient, from a smaller emergency hospital to a larger facility. Sobrino passed away on July 17 at the age of 67.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
Paramedic GEORGE LOMBARDO talks to a COVID-19 positive patient TEODORA SOBRINO being transported by Superior Mobile Health from a smaller emergency hospital to a larger one in San Antonio. Sobrino passed away on July 17, at the age of 67.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
Superior Mobile Health paramedic GEORGE LOMBARDO works to figure out where to take an elderly COVID-19 positive man who died during the transfer from the hospital to home hospice shortly after midnight. 'This is the closest thing medicine gets to war,' said Dave Condie, a paramedic who is clinical care coordinator for Superior Mobile Health, the private ambulance company where Lombardo works.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
Superior Mobile Health paramedic KATHERYN WIEDING peeks inside a Southside emergency hospital, looking for someone to let her back in, after leaving briefly to go to the ambulance.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
Superior Mobile Health paramedics GEORGE LOMBARDO and KATHERYN WIEDING, right, transport a woman they were told was COVID-19 positive from an assisted living facility to a hospital in San Antonio. The powerful grip of the disease that was somewhat manageable in the spring now is taxing the medical system at every level, with the daily count of new cases spiking to more than 500, 1,000 and even 2,000 one day this summer.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
A family member tries to find a way to enter the hospital as she follows Superior Mobile Health paramedic KATHERYN WIEDING wheeling a patient into a downtown hospital from a smaller Southside hospital.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
Paramedic KATHERYN WIEDING cleans the Superior Mobile Health ambulance after transferring a patient to a hospital in San Antonio. After the transport, EMS crews must sterilize every surface inside the vehicle. Door handles, cabinets, medical tubing, blood pressure cuffs, heart monitors, handlebars, the stretcher, the list goes on.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
Superior Mobile Health EMT DOMINIQUE SHARP puts on extra personal protective equipment as GEORGE LOMBARDO prepares the stretcher to pick up a COVID-19 positive patient from a Southside hospital.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
Superior Mobile Health EMT DOMINIQUE SHARP puts on extra personal protective equipment as GEORGE LOMBARDO prepares the stretcher to pick up a COVID-19 positive patient from a Southside hospital. Each dispatch call brings a new medical crisis that demands life-saving care in the back of a moving vehicle and laser focus behind the wheel.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
EMT DOMINIQUE SHARP rests her head on clinical care coordinator DAVE CONDIE after her overnight shift with paramedic GEORGE LOMBARDO, far right, as Superior Mobile Health chief operating officer ANDY SCHULTZ pats his back as the teams switch shifts in the early morning.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
EMT DOMINIQUE SHARP looks back at her colleagues beginning their shift as she walks to her car after showering at the Superior Mobile Health office at the end of her shift in the early morning.
© Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News via ZUMA Wire
Lisa Krantz

ZUMA Press Newspaper San Antonio Express-News's LISA KRANTZ is a 2018 Pulitzer finalist and adjunct professor at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Lisa is also a 2020 Neiman Fellow at Harvard University and she has been a staff photojournalist at the Express-News since 2004. Lisa's reportage stories are represented by ZUMA Press. (Credit Image: © ZUMAPRESS.com):748



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