Isolation (Part 13)



Posted by Jeremy Windsor on Apr 25, 2020

Over the next few months we'll all be spending a lot more time indoors trying to limit the spread of COVID-19. We've been in touch with members of the mountain medicine community to ask them for suggestions on how to manage. Here's Emily Watts, an ED SHO based in the Lake District, to share her thoughts...


"Having grown up in a small town I consider myself lucky to already know what it is to experience community spirit. Whilst it is proving devastating in every way, the far-reaching consequences of this pandemic have gone a long way towards restoring my faith in the kindness of a stranger, and the strength of a community.

I am currently working as an SHO in the Emergency Department in Whitehaven, Cumbria. Doubtless along with many of you reading, this means I am another one of the many on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19. Not being a ‘marra’ (local), I have found myself amazed and comforted by the community’s response. Not a shift has gone by without food, gifts, chocolates and messages of support being donated to the department and the hospital as a whole.



We had assumed that the (apparently gimmicky) organised applause for the NHS on Thursday evening would be largely ignored when we were discussing it on shift earlier in the day. There was in fact a raucous racket that included the deafening fog horns of ships just off the coast. It was instead a profoundly moving and appreciated gesture that somehow felt proud and hopeful. Our team chat exploded with videos and photos of different streets showing their support, and the messages showed just how much it meant to us to have the community’s backing.

On a wider scale, social media is being turned into a ‘force for good’ – with support groups, online school curriculums to help parents tackle home-schooling and countless entertaining videos of what people are getting up to in quarantine. It feels as though everyone wants to contribute, to help in their own way, to share the burden. There is a general feeling of people coming together. The creativity and kindness displayed is heart-warming, and provides a much-needed distraction from the realities of work.

My New Normal:

I am blessed to live and work with views of Scafell Pike and the surrounds. At present, the mountains are a ‘look, but don’t touch’ activity, as we are all encouraged to exercise from our front doors and minimise our potential impact on emergency services. The importance of this measure was demonstrated spectacularly the weekend before lockdown, when the Lakes were inundated with visitors: in particular campers and caravans looking for that perfect social isolation spot. As a member of both the NHS and the Mountain Rescue families, the potential impact and implications of continued visitors and subsequent callouts on the already stretched resources were all too visible. Consequently, the mountain rescue community, as well as the wider local population, are leading by example - instead exploring our more immediate surroundings. For myself, this means exploring the lanes, tracks and a newly discovered cycle-track around where I live. I am slowly adjusting to this ‘new normal’. Rather than high-tailing it into the hills the first opportunity I get, I now find my time filled in other ways (my pile of ‘to-read’ books is now significantly shorter than it was!). This doesn’t stop me pouring over Wainwright’s guides - route planning fun days to come!


Here's a recommendation for fell runners and walkers alike - What about Wainwright's the 7 books that make up the "Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells" as well as the "Pennine Way Companion" and "A Coast to Coast Walk"? There's enough inspiration in these 10 publications for a lifetime spent outdoors! 


Given that grocery shopping with a list of desired items is now quite often redundant, I have begun to take a Ready Steady Cook style approach to meals. This has actually been an entertaining game resulting in some incredible (and some inedible) meals. When applied to leftovers, it has the simultaneous advantage of emptying the fridge of those half-empty pots and containers ahead of the next essential shop. If you’re isolating with other people you could even have a Red and Green team…

Finally, to build on one of the previous posts I'd recommend...

Netflix Party - This allows multiple people to watch the same show at the same time, and chat about it as well. It only requires one person to have a Netflix account (you share a link with the people you want to ‘Party’ with). It also doesn’t require synchronised start/stops – so if one person pauses, everyone pauses. It’s not quite the same as an in-person film night, but with a willingness to adapt to a text-messaging style of chatting, it works pretty well!


Thanks Emily!

Part 14 of "Isolation" can be found here

Please get in touch if you'd like to take part in other "Isolation" posts! 

Stay safe.


Have something to say? Comment on this post