The epidemic of coronavirus it is leaving many misfortunes, but also stories that demonstrate the human quality of many people. One of them is the one that stars Maxime Mbanda, a rugby player who volunteers as an ambulance in Parma and who is at the center of the fight against disease and talks about a reality that is scary.
Last Saturday, Mbanda, of Congolese father and Italian mother, would have had to face England against 60,000 people in Rome in his international match number 21 with the Azzurra team, a match that like others was postponed.
Instead, with a face mask and a full protective suit, this player born in Rome Chains his fourth day collaborating in an ambulance with volunteers from the Yellow Cross of Parma, in Emilia Romagna, one of the areas most affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“When everything was canceled in rugby, I asked myself how I could help, even without medical competition”, has confessed to .. “I found the Yellow Cross, which had a transport service for medicine and food for the elderly.”
But after a few days supplying masks, food and medical prescriptions, the physical strength of the Zebre Rugby third line, the Parma club, was placed where it was most useful, “Up front, at the heart of the problem.”
«I found myself transferring coronavirus patients from one hospital in the region to another. I help with the stretcher or if patients have to be carried in a wheelchair. I also carry oxygen, “he explains.
“With the eyes”
It is a situation of absolute urgency, where «95% of hospital structures are exclusively dedicated to the sick of the coronavirus ».
«If people saw what I see in hospitals, there would be no queues in front of supermarkets. They would reflect several times before going jogging, “says the 26-year-old.
«I see people of all ages, with respirators, with oxygen, doctors and nurses who are on duty for 20 or 22 hours, that they do not sleep a minute and that they rest a little the day after, “he adds.
Without any medical experience, but supported by his girlfriend and his father, a surgeon in Milan, “he is also on the front line”, the athlete must also act as a psychologist in contact with patients installed “in services where the order of the day is death”. «When you see their gaze … Even if they can’t speak, they communicate with their eyes and they tell you things you can’t imagine, “he says.
«They hear the cries, the doctors and nurses who run from one service to another. The first person I took out of a hospital told me that he had seen the neighbor in the next bed die three hours earlier. And during the night, two other women died in the room he was in. I’ve never seen anyone die“, Add.
He says that you have to behave with these patients “as if they were friends or relatives”. “But what is terrible is that every time you touch them, that you give them a simple caress in the ambulance to comfort them, you must immediately disinfect your hands,” regrets number eight Zebre.
«I started eight days ago, without a day off and with 12 or 13 hour rotations. But compared to what I see in infectious disease wards, I tell myself that I can’t be tired, “he says, convinced that others could help.
«Fear is normal. But there are small things that can be done with total security and that would offer half an hour or an hour of rest to those on the front line. For them, an hour is essential ». Accustomed with the Italian team to tackle the strongest rivals, Mbanda does not resign: As long as I have the strength, I will continue. As long as there are emergencies, I will continue ».