Former respiratory therapist one of many joining COVID-19 battle

Hundreds of retired and former health-care professionals are offering to step back into scrubs to help Alberta battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hundreds of former Alberta health-care workers are offering to pitch in during crisis

Jody Lund, a former respiratory therapist, is one of hundreds of former health-care workers now stepping up to help by returning to work during the COVID-19 crisis. (Submitted by Jody Lund)

Jody Lund is stepping away from a career in film production and jumping back into his scrubs to help battle back against the COVID-19 pandemic.

A few years ago, Lund said he left his stressful job as a respiratory therapist to try something completely different, and signed up for a film and video production program.

But when the COVID-19 crisis hit, Lund said he starting thinking about helping out by returning to his old job in the intensive care unit.

Then his old boss called him to ask just that, formally requesting that he help run potentially life-saving ventilators.

"I feel like, especially when the system is so burdened like this, every little bit helps," Lund said. "I already know that there's lots of open shifts. They're trying to find people to fill these open shifts."

Ventilators have been key to helping COVID-19 patients keep breathing. Alberta Health Services said about 400 retired respiratory therapists and nurses and about 46 doctors have been willing to come out of retirement. (Felipe Dana/The Associated Press, File)

Hundreds of retirees step up

So far, about 46 doctors have come out of retirement to help during the pandemic, according to Alberta Health Services.

The agency has also heard from 400 retired respiratory therapists, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses who are willing to help.

"AHS is extremely grateful and is in the process of evaluating those who have offered their services," reads a statement provided by AHS to CBC News.

Lund said he stepped up because he knows that in addition to ventilators, the health system also needs people to run them.

Alberta is working on multiple fronts to ensure it has an excess of ventilators when COVID-19 peaks, Premier Jason Kenney has said. (Jean-Pierre Clatot/AFP via Getty Images)

The Alberta government is currently working to double the number of available ventilators by the pandemic's peak.

Here's how different masks compare:

See how different masks compare. (CBC News Graphics)

Lund said he knows there's a good chance he could contract the novel coronavirus, but said the benefits outweigh the risks.

But Lund added it's crucial that he has the necessary personal protective equipment to stay safe.

"I'm not willing to put myself at that great of risk to walk into a patient's room unprotected," he said.

With files from Colleen Underwood


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