To Have and To Hold During a Pandemic

To Have and to Hold

Like many professional couples living and working through the coronavirus pandemic, class of 2011 husband and wife duo, Liz and Adam Martin have had to make some big adjustments in their daily lives.

Adam (Fire Science) and Liz Martin (Education) were taught to think on their feet and always prepare for the unexpected during their time at Anna Maria College. Adam is a Firefighter and Paramedic for the Northampton Fire Department. He has been working extra shifts throughout the pandemic to fill in for some of his colleagues who have contracted COVID-19. Liz teaches Kindergarten and First Grade at St. Michael’s School in Southern Vermont and was forced to quickly transition her entire curriculum to remote learning.

We recently had the opportunity to ask each of them a variety of questions about their experiences during COVID-19.Martin stacked pics


What has it been like working in your profession during the pandemic and how has it impacted or shifted your job duties?

Adam: As a Firefighter/Paramedic, we have had to change the way we respond to calls in different facilities. On every response I must wear a N95 or respirator mask. If the patient has a fever or difficulty breathing, I must wear a Tyvek suit. For Advanced Life Support level calls, the fire engine still responds, but responders stay in the truck unless needed in order to decrease the number of people exposed. Simple calls that have taken 15 minutes in the past now take upwards of an hour due to the decontamination that needs to be done before and after. We use a misting machine to spray the trucks with virus killing chemicals. After each call related to COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms, the station is out of service until everyone can shower and put on a clean uniform, which could be anywhere from one to eight showers and laundry loads during a 24-hour shift.

Liz: After teaching for seven years, being told to switch to remote learning was both scary and very unknowing. In the beginning it was a day-by-day basis not knowing if we would return back to the classroom the next week. Eventually March 17 was our last day in the classroom. For my class, I sent a remote learning daily lesson plan every morning along with a message, conference hours on Zoom and the lesson plan for the rest of the week. As a teacher, this whole time has made me feel robotic. Teaching behind a computer is not what teaching is. It is a hands-on job, especially in the early elementary grades.

Can you share an example or story that best captures your job response during the pandemic?

Adam: On the fire side of the job, we are now wearing N95 masks on every automatic fire alarm and simply run of the mill calls because we must enter through people’s homes. We are still responding to every call, but have adjusted how we respond so that we protect both ourselves and those around us. And, we are limiting the number of responders in an emergency so there is more work with fewer hands.

Liz: During Teacher Appreciation Week our school sponsored a drive-by parade where families corralled, cheered and supported all the teachers and staff. At the end, two of my students wanted to hand me a present to say thank you and all I wanted to do was hug them. Instead, we exchanged an “air hug.” It hurts so much to not be able to be with my students every day. Seeing them blossom and grow at home is not the same as in the classroom.

In what ways did Anna Maria College prepare you for your profession?

Adam: The EMT class gave me a good base education on how to be successful on the ambulance and prepare me for paramedic school. My Fire and Management classes provided me with an understanding on the preparation that goes into all sorts of emergency planning. When I think about Anna Maria College, a couple of words that come to mind include success, preparedness and being a leader.

Liz: When I think about Anna Maria College, the words that come to mind include academics, faith and family. During my time at Anna Maria I learned that there are many types of learners in life and it is my job to teach in those ways even during this pandemic. Whether it is a cooking class for Social Studies or double-digit addition and subtraction, it’s about going the extra mile to show your students that you love them. The Catholic faith that is taught and shown throughout at Anna Maria helped me continue my faith journey in Catholicism and is why I continued my educational career at a Catholic institution. The friends, faculty, and staff that I met at Anna Maria have now become my best friends and family members and I have Anna Maria to thank for that.

Through all of the challenges you have faced, did you encounter a person or situation you found inspiring?

Adam: I was inspired by the leaders of my fire department. The Chief has made sure everyone is safe and has a surplus of PPE. Before the pandemic officially hit we were already responding to calls differently to ensure we got home safe. Because of the way they responded to acquiring PPE and implementing new standard operating procedures and guidelines, no one responding to calls in our department has gotten sick as of yet. 

Liz: This quote from Mother Theresa hit me hard during this pandemic and unknowing time: “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” This is the love that I have attempted to spread to my own students. They know that the love and happiness they give me I give to them in return.

What advice would you give to future students entering your field?

Adam: Emergency services is always changing - from responses to the way people and scenes are taken care of. Always keep up on classes and take advantage of training opportunities. I was once told by my mentor: “The day you think you know everything is the day you need to retire. Being cocky and complacent will kill you or your co-worker.” I took that to heart, and try to learn something new from every call.

Liz: Know that you are not in this career for the money. You are in this career to make a difference in a student’s life. They are not just your students, they become your children.


Virtual Commencement 2020

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