Frontline Dispatch: SF Paramedic Reflects on Pandemic

Alfredo Banuelos. Courtesy photo.

Alfredo Banuelos. Courtesy photo.

Before coronavirus cases were confirmed in San Francisco, paramedic Alfredo Banuelos and his colleagues were watching case numbers in other cities, still at a distance. Then he got his first patient. When the virus arrived in San Francisco and the city locked down and everything changed, procedures on the ambulance changed too. He reflects on how the pandemic unfolded for emergency medical responders.

“I remember having our morning roundups, and having our supervisors say, ‘OK, we’re still fine you guys.’ But then you get closer: OK, now it’s in the state of Washington. OK, now it’s in L.A. And so we’re seeing it come, but it’s still disconnected from San Francisco. And all of a sudden we get our first patient. And then seven in 12 hours, then 20 in 24 hours. And now we’re like, ‘OK, we have to do something a little different.”

— Alfredo Banuelos

A segment from our radio show and podcast, “Civic.” Listen at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 102.5 FM in San Francisco, or online at, and subscribe on Apple, Google, Spotify or Stitcher

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