KU Cares: Jayhawks on the Front Lines - Taylor Rappaport
Taylor Rappaport attended KU from 2011-15, and during his sophomore campaign he tore his UCL (Tommy John), which ended his season. During his junior season, he re-injured his elbow three quarters into the season, which ended up being career ending. Rappaport graduated with my B.S. in Sports Management.
Once he returned home to California, Rappaport was lucky enough to be immediately hired by the Los Angeles City Fire Department where he still works today.
Rappaport’s department sent him to paramedic school about a year and a half ago, and he graduated from UCLA’s Paramedic program and is now a licensed Paramedic. His official title is Firefighter/Paramedic, and he has spent most of his career in the Downtown Los Angeles area, serving the “Skid Row” community which is home to LA’s largest concentration of homeless. Rappaport recently transferred to a new station in the San Fernando Valley area where he is currently working.
Learn more about his experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic below.
Q: How has COVID-19 affected your position? How has this affected the hospital/clinic that you work at?
The COVID-19 crisis changed a lot of what my position does on a day to day basis. My position is unique because I am what we call “dual-function” meaning I perform both the duties of a firefighter and a paramedic at the same time. We are obviously still responding to 911 calls for fires and other non-medical emergencies but the majority of our incidents are medical related. Operating as a paramedic has put me in the unique position of being the first point of medical contact for many people potentially suffering from COVID-19. Our operating protocols changed significantly with the intentions of limiting exposure to healthcare workers. We temporarily stopped using certain “high-risk” procedures that significantly increase the likelihood of contracting the disease. We implemented strict decontamination procedures and guidelines for wearing PPE or personal protective equipment. Ultimately this health crisis has really made myself and my co-workers ensure we are operating at the top of our game at all times to best protect ourselves and the community.
Q: What has been one of the biggest learning lessons from the pandemic?
In my eyes, the most important lesson I have learned is how important having a strong support system is. The first month of the pandemic was extremely stressful and scary for me. I felt like I was rolling the dice every day I went to work. Having my family and friends to talk to and de-stress with was extremely helpful.
I think I took for granted how much trust people put in our healthcare workers. This crisis has really showed me what it means to “care for someone.” Our hospitals implemented a strict no-visitors policy early on in this crisis. This put me in a position to have to tell family members they were not allowed to go to the hospital with their loved ones when it came time for us to transport them. I really struggled with this because I could see the fear in the family’s eyes that they may never see their loved one again. It quite honestly broke my heart. This crisis has shown me the importance of putting a big premium on providing emotional support for my patients and their family members.
Q: How has this affected your day-to-day life?
Just like every other American, I have struggled with the stay at home orders. I have been fortunate enough to be able to get out of the house to go to work, but with that comes a lot of extra stress. I didn’t see anyone in my family for almost two months. My biggest fear was unknowingly and potentially fatally infecting a more vulnerable member of my family. That has easily been the hardest part for me because I am extremely close with my family.
Q: How have you seen your community respond?
My work community has really stepped up and continued to provide the best care possible for the citizens of Los Angeles. I have been truly amazed by the sheer will to help by my co-workers. My home community has been shaken, much like everyone else in the country. I have noticed a lot more people trying to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. I love seeing people out walking or running, while following proper social distancing of course!
Q: How are you, your co-workers handling the pandemic?
I have just been taking everything day by day. I think things can look a bit intimidating if we focus on the big picture too much. All of my co-workers are just taking it call by call and shift by shift. I focus on giving my very best to each and every patient while I am with them.
Q: What advice do you have for anyone reading your story?
My biggest piece of advice would be to turn off the TV and go outside and get some fresh air. I think we can all get so caught up in the day to day that we forget how pure the simple things in life can be for our soul.
Q: Anything else you would like to say to Kansas Athletics, and the Lawrence community?
KU, Kansas Athletics ,Lawrence and all of Jayhawk Nation will forever hold a special place in my heart. It has made me so happy seeing all of the amazing things our alumni are accomplishing throughout this crisis. Thank you for your unwavering support. I can’t wait to return to Lawrence once this is all over!