The Outbreak of Covid-19 dramatically changed the lives of everyone in Washington. However, while most of Rat City Roller Derby has been working from home, RCRD also has many skaters who are also essential employees and continuing to go into work. Four skaters, Thumper Skull (Derby Liberation Front), Rowan Shade (Sockit Wenches), Meg for Mercy (Derby Liberation Front), and Nikole Plated (Sockit Wenches); have shared their experiences.
These four skaters are highly involved in protecting our communities. Thumper is a Radiology Assistant at Swedish First Hill. She brings inpatients and emergency patients to the CT department for their scans. She also screens patients for their exam and communicates with CT technologists, doctors and nurses to ensure the patient is properly prepared for their CT scan. Plated works as a Social Worker, working as an investigator for Adult Protective Services for the State of Washington. She’s responsible for investigating allegations of abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults over the age of 60 and developmentally disabled adults. Ro works as Day Center Assistant at a daytime shelter for women experiencing homelessness in Seattle. She helps the shelter’s many clients meet their basic needs. Meg is the Community Outreach Manager for the Humane Society of Tacoma and Pierce Country, one of the few animal shelters that has remained open during the outbreak. She counsels owners in crisis and runs the shelter’s pet food pantry.
Since March, all of their job responsibilities have increased and changed. Working in the hospital, Thumper has been on the front line of all the changes. She’s noticed:
“the extra attention we pay to conserving our PPE masks and gowns. […] There are fewer patients in the hospital (because elective surgeries, procedures, and exams have been canceled), but the patients we do have are sicker. We usually don’t have the need to use isolation gowns and masks as frequently as we are now because we have more potentially infectious patients. This has made it necessary to reuse masks that are typically disposed of after one use in order to conserve. Fortunately, Swedish has begun a mask recycling program so I don’t feel as wasteful when I need to use a new surgical mask. Swedish has also recommended a universal masking policy so I wear a surgical mask for most of my 12 hour shift while in patient care areas.”
Both Ro and Meg have increased responsibilities at their non-profits because they have less volunteer help since the Stay at Home Order. Ro stated, “myself and my coworkers have been spread pretty thin trying to meet the same level of demands and number of clients all with just a fraction of available help.” Meg emphasizes that “because of this stay at home order I am doing ALL the things!”
Each skater faces increased risks. Ro explained that the day center is taking many precautions including increasing spacing, using more single use plates and utensils, and doing frequent, thorough wipedowns. She also feels “a bit nervous and very vulnerable because I can’t just do this job from home; I still have to physically go in to work every day and interact very closely with a very vulnerable population of people.” Plated also noted that “it’s hard putting yourself and others at risk.”
Despite all the changes and risks, though, they all know that their jobs are important. Plated “understand(s) how important the work is, in making sure that people are safe and free from abuse.” Meg is “encountering so many community members that each day that are very much relying on me being there.” Ro wants everyone to understand that “shelter in place” is a huge luxury. The women I work with every day literally don’t have the option to stay home. Also, most essential employees don’t really have the option to NOT be on the frontlines of all of this right now[…]”
Finally, and most importantly, all of RCRD’s essential works note that it is utterly important to stay home if you can. Thumper emphasizes that “for the safety of yourself, healthcare workers and other essential workers, please continue to stay home to flatten the curve. The worst is yet to come, if we are to keep our PPE supplies up and keep hospital staff healthy, we all need to follow the governor’s mandates, stay at home, and stay vigilant.”