A Day in The Life of a Balkan EMS Crew

Mobile Users: View in landscape (horizontal) for best experience. // All photos by OSCAR B. CASTILLO on January 29-31, 2021

North Macedonia is a small nation of some 2 million people. It has been highly affected by the pandemic and has been as high as 6th place worldwide in fatal Covid-19 cases per million people. Late at night, Dr. Kristina Shindelar takes a break in the main office of the call center after filling the paperwork for an intervention.

Nurse Neat Ibraim, 26, is seen on his way to the ambulance to pick up equipment while responding to an emergency call. Neat was first an ambulance driver and emergency services worker before becoming a certified nurse.

Dr. Kristina T. Shindelar, 32, stands for a picture at the window of the main call center emergency medical service in Skopje, North Macedonia. Dr. Kristina is the chief doctor of an emergency team including one ambulance driver and one nurse. At the beginning of the pandemic she was starting her specialization in Orthopedic Medicine but has worked exclusively in the emergency department for the past year and put the other activities on hold.

Dr. Kristina T. Shindelar is seen being helped by her shift partner, Nurse Neat Ibraim, to put on isolation gown and other personal protective equipment, while the driver, Viktorio Nikolovski, waits ready in the ambulance.

Workers of the emergency medical service spend time together at the office of the call center. Times seem a bit calmer than in the last couple of months of 2020 when the infection rates were extremely high and the emergencies were frequent. But, as the emergency workers say, this is still an emergency service and a call could come at any moment regardless of the intensity of Covid-19.

Viktorio Nikolovski speeds up the ambulance he drives for the emergency department.

The EMS team responds to an accident in the downtown area. A 24-year-old woman is seen in distress after being hit by a car.

Dr. Kristina Shindelar and the emergency team treat a 24-year-old woman who was hit by a car in the Skopje downtown area. Passersby gathered at the scene, some put pressure on the doctor to move the patient.

Dr. Kristina Shindelar with the shift nurse and the ambulance driver are seen taking the patient to the emergency department of the main surgery center at the University Clinical Center Mother Theresa in Skopje. The young woman, hit by a car, suffered multiple injuries – fractured ankle, legs, arms and, as concluded by the EMS team, potentially other non-visible traumas.

Dr. Kristina Shindelar checks the names on the mailboxes at a residence building to locate an address given for the emergency call.

Dr. Kristina Shindelar and the shift nurse are seen preparing medicines to be given to a patient at an intervention late at night in the periphery of Skopje.

At Skopje's downtown Dr Kristina T. Shindelar checks oxygen levels an elderly woman whose family called the emergency service after observing dizziness, difficulties breathing and problems with tension.

Dr. Kristina Shindelar is seen taking a moment, after a complicated intervention following an accident in the downtown area, to play with a dog that lives in the parking area in front of the emergency services.

Dr Kristina T. Shindelar and Nurse Neat Ibraim arrive to a building in Skopje's downtown area to respond to a call from a patient.

Dr. Kristina Shindelar is seen comforting and trying to keep a patient conscious after administering medicines and oxygen support before his transfer to the hospital. The elderly man was presenting a complicated set of symptoms including convulsions, difficulties breathing, and fever. He was taken for further examinations.

Lidija Kuculovska and Irina Nastovska (right) are seen answering emergency calls at the call center of the main emergency medicine service center in Skopje.

A hotel guest is being treated following an emergency call for fear of diabetes related complications

The ambulance driver, Mr. Viktorio Nikolovski, is seen cleaning the stretcher used in his ambulance. Nikolovski has been an ambulance driver for more than 20 years and has overseen the maintenance of the ambulance equipment, a task even more important at times of Covid-19. The equipment is cleaned and disinfected after each intervention.

Related Stories