‘Nice having family nearby’: siblings tackling COVID together as first responders

Clayton Haverdink, a paramedic, and his sister Tahlia, an EMT, work side-by-side for Life EMS, helping patients during the pandemic
Posted at 7:05 PM, Nov 13, 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Clayton and Tahlia Haverdink said they’re seeing an increase in COVID cases lately. They both work for Life EMS Ambulance Service and the patients they’re tending to now are more sick than the ones they treated earlier in the pandemic.

However, they feel prepared to handle it, they said.

“We’re well-trained. We’re well taken-care of. We’re provided with all the proper personal protective equipment or PPE. And, as long as we’re wearing our masks or any extra PPE required and washing our hands, I feel pretty safe,” Clayton said during an interview with Fox 17 on Thursday. “Comfortable knowing that I wasn’t truly exposed because I’m protected by the equipment that we use everyday.”

And, they’ve got each other. Clayton and Tahlia aren’t just co-workers. Clayton’s a paramedic and Tahlia is an EMT. They’re brother and sister.

“I like that I can always come to him and ask questions,” Tahlia said standing near Clayton, both wearing masks. “He has been here longer than me. So, I can always look to him for support through all of this. It is nice.”

Clayton said that he always wanted to work in the emergency medical services field. He enjoyed learning about medicine and spent two years training to become a paramedic.

Tahlia followed in his steps, she said. She too enjoyed medicine and spent six months training to be an EMT. Now, sometimes, they get to work together in the same ambulance.

“I’ve you know run a couple of serious calls that could be traumatizing to people and she’s checked up on me,” Clayton said. “There’s just a lot of support. It’s nice having family always nearby.”

The Haverdinks said they understand how heartbreaking the pandemic can be. They’ve had to watch loved ones suffer through it.

“I know it’s frustrating and disheartening to people when they can’t be with their loved ones at the hospital. Our grandparents have gone to the hospital during this,” Clayton said. “And limited number of visitors, maybe even just one visitor, we’ve felt it too.”

However, they remained physically distant to protect themselves and their family. It’s their advice to others during this time and to also wear a mask and exercise social distancing.

“I definitely do go home and I do think about it a little bit more. I am cleaning more at home. You know, I wash my hands more. I encourage my friends to do the same,” Tahlia said. “If there’s any safety concerns you know stay home, get tested. But, so far it hasn’t been too different, just a little extra clean for sure.”