Metropolitan Police Federation

PC Goes Above And Beyond Juggling Policing And ICU

A young-in-service Metropolitan Police officer who is also a registered nurse has talked about her experience working on COVID wards throughout the pandemic.
PC Amy Watson, who now works in response at Brixton, started her police training at the beginning of 2020, just as COVID was starting to hit the UK.
Before that, she worked as a healthcare assistant for several years and had been a full-time registered nurse for nearly a year.
Amy said: “Everything kind of shut down when I started my police training at Marlowe House, but I was still going in every weekday from nine to five.
“Then as soon as COVID hit properly, they were obviously desperate for nurses. So I would do two nursing shifts one weekend and then one shift the following weekend, and these were 13-hour shifts.
“So I was doing police training on Monday to Friday and then often Saturday and Sunday in the COVID ICU at King’s College Hospital, and then Monday to Friday in Marlowe, and then either Saturday or Sunday at hospital, kind of ongoing.
“I was doing a lot. There wasn’t really anything else you could do at that time.”

‘Out Of Our Depth’
Working in the ICU was incredibly tough, Amy said, and very different to her pre-COVID nursing work on a short-stay surgical ward.
She said: “It was much tougher, by a long way. I was used to dealing with relatively simple surgical cases, and then all the nurses on that ward suddenly had to become severely acute medical nurses.
“That was the case for everybody, really. Everyone had to give it a go. We felt out of our depth all the time, and too busy, but you just kept going.
“We did two hours of training, including tracheotomy training. You go into ICU and have a room full of five or six very unwell patients, and it was most likely at the time that half of them were not going to live.
“I looked after someone who had a drain in their heart because COVID had somehow travelled from their lungs to their heart. It was a lot.
“During that first wave I was working a lot and I kept saying, ‘I’m going to bring it down at some point, to two shifts a month’. But I did a lot of shifts in the COVID ICU because there were nowhere near enough nurses. One time I did a shift in A&E when they were 10 nurses down.
“In some ways I felt lucky. Everyone kept saying to me, ‘That’s crazy that you’re doing all this extra work on top of policing’, but then I went into the ICUs and saw how hard they were working and how awful it was.
“They were doing four to five 13-hour shifts a week in full PPE, when they should have been doing three. So the fact I came in and did one or two shifts a week made me feel like I was the one who was doing very well and not having to work as hard as all of them. It made that feel a bit easier.”

Vaccination Volunteer
When the first wave of COVID slowed down, Amy still worked shifts in her old surgical department.
Then the vaccine programme started up and Amy decided she wanted to get involved.
She said: “You just kind of feel like you want to be in the spirit of it all.
“Giving the COVID vaccines was a lot more pleasant and calm than the wards. Everybody seemed very pleased to get a vaccine and it felt like a very positive thing to be doing.”
Amy continues to encourage her policing colleagues to get their jab. She said: “The overwhelming majority of people have been vaccinated now and there’s probably been one of the lowest rates of potential side effects compared to other vaccines or medications.
“If it means that one person doesn’t get incredibly ill or dies, then I think it’s worth it.
“People kind of feel that COVID’s over, but we thought that before. We could have another variation that is more likely to kill people but responds very well to the vaccine. Our only option of protection is getting vaccinated, and it takes less than 10 seconds.”

Rest-Day Nursing
Amy finished her policing probation in January and has since been preparing for her Sergeant’s exam, but she plans to continue helping at the vaccine centres when she can.
She said: “All nurses need to be revalidated every three years and that’s coming up for me in May, so I’ll do that, which will give me the flexibility to continue nursing alongside policing.
“I can’t really see myself stopping nursing any time soon, particularly while the vaccine programme is happening. It’s helpful and I’m enjoying it.”
Amy’s fellow officers are often shocked that she does nursing on her rest days and they sometimes tease her.
She laughted: “If something comes up that’s medical, they’ll be like, ‘Amy’s a nurse!’ But in a friendly way.”
For her, nursing and policing are natural bedfellows.
She said: “It was an easy decision for me to move to policing, because I think it shares a lot of similar ideals of public service, helping your patient or victim, and being a support for people in their hardest, most difficult times.”