Thoughts on COVID-19 from Frank Larkin, Chair of the Veterans Advisory Council

Frank Larkin

Frank Larkin, Chair of the Veterans Advisory Council

“Focus on what you can reach and control”

Thoughts on COVID-19 from Frank Larkin, Chair of the Veterans Advisory Council

Is this a world ending event?

No, this is not a world ending event.  Do not get consumed and paralyzed by things that are out of your reach and out of your control.  We will get through this, but not without experiencing a variable degree of dysfunction, inconvenience and pain.  The greatest threat, beyond the “unknown” surrounding this epidemic, is FEAR.  Fear can be crippling and can take you to a very dark place of despair and hopelessness.  Fear can also tune your senses and personal resolve to overcome a threat.  Just know that you are not alone, it is not the end of the world and we will get through this and hopefully become stronger as individuals, a nation and humanity as a whole.

Have we ever been threatened like this before…in the past 100 years?

1914, World War 1 was the war to end all wars, with over 20 million killed and 20 million wounded…the world survived this self-inflicted wound.

In 1918, a global H1N1 flu pandemic (Spanish Flu) affected 500 million people.  At that time, there was no World Health Organization or US Center for Disease Control. Health care was much different 100 years ago…the world survived.

In the early 1930’s, our parents and grandparents went through the Great Depression that left many out of work and without food…they found ways to cope and they survived.

On one early Sunday morning in December 1941, life changed for all Americans as Pearl Harbor was attacked and over 2000 people were lost.  It launched us into World War 2, the second war to end all wars, where 75 million people died and an even greater unknown number were wounded…despite itself, the world survived again.

1952 brought the Polio epidemic where every parent feared for the health of their child, until the Salk vaccine was developed and successfully inoculated our society against the deadly and debilitating disease…our parents and future brothers and sisters survived.

H1N1 flu epidemic of 1957 caused 1.1 million deaths worldwide…again, the world survived.

In 1981, HIV/AIDS hit our society, taking the lives of many friends and family.  At the time, there was no cure in sight.  Today, the disease has been brought under control with the successful development of anti-viral drugs…society continues to survive.

On the beautiful Tuesday morning of September 11th, 2001, our nation was shaken to its core by unprecedented acts of terrorism.  Everything instantly stopped, but only momentarily, because our nation quickly realized that it had to move forward.  Many were in fear to leave their homes and holding their breaths for the next attack…a sleeping giant was awakened and we responded with overwhelming energy and “let’s roll” spirit…surviving 9/11 and beyond to become even stronger.

SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2002 tested the ability of world health organizations to contain a sudden outbreak of another variant of coronavirus. Much like COVID-19, this variant was also respiratory-based, spread via infectious droplets from coughing and sneezing.  Aggressive social quarantine and containment, along with wide-spread public information campaigns successfully contained the spread of the virus…the world survived.

In 2009, H1N1 (Swine) flu struck again affecting 68 million world-wide.  Emergency vaccines were developed that helped to mitigate the propagation of the disease…the world survived.

The Ebola virus in 2013 found Africa as the epi-center for a very contagious and highly deadly outbreak of another blood borne virus.  An aggressive global health response and containment effort successfully mitigated the spread of the disease to other parts of the globe…the world survived.

Zika Fever in 2015 rang alarm bells around the world for a disease transmitted by mosquitos.  Every child bearing woman of age was at risk in many mosquito infested areas of the world for an insidious disease that carried the risk for severe birth defects and neurological impairment. Public education, travel restrictions and mosquito eradication measures successfully stalled the progress of the disease while vaccines were developed…the children survive.

What can I do?

Frank Larkin quote

TODAY, we are faced with another global health and security challenge that is not unlike the others cited above in that it, like then, presents a very ominous threat to humanity.  Like the other challenges cited, we will get through this and survive.  Survival is directly linked to a positive attitude and a strong application of common sense. We cannot stop and put it in reverse…the only option is to move forward.  Be a leader by example and control/influence the spaces that that you occupy by embracing social distancing, self-quarantine and recommended protective hygiene.  Leadership responsibility spans not only from the boss, but to the newest member of the team as we ALL have a role and an obligation to look out for and protect the greater whole.  Ask what else I can do to help, who else may need my help, where can I make a difference in my space, whether at home, work or your neighborhood.

As a practicing volunteer paramedic for 40 years, every time the 911 alarm bell rang, I responded.  I did not discriminate what calls I would take or not take.  People needed my help, because I had skills that could help them through their personal crises.  Personally, and professionally, I will move forward in the face of this epidemic. As a volunteer paramedic in my community, I will continue to respond to the inevitable 911 calls that will come in for help…from family, friends and complete strangers.  Over many years of EMS practice, I have dealt with health risks from SARS, hepatitis, H1N1, HIV/AIDS, and the annual influenzas.  So far, I have survived because I got informed, properly prepared, protected myself, and applied good old common sense.  You can make a difference in your space, take control.

“WE WILL SURVIVE and BECOME STRONGER”

Learn more about Frank Larkin and our Veterans Advisory Council