BEIJING – Zhang Dan was among the first to respond to the call for help in China's coronavirus epicenter. The 36-year-old nurse worked through grueling days, ministering to patients who needed assistance from breathing to merely eating.
She struggled — but then, a little street dog helped her through.
Zhang was among 42,600 medical workers brought from around China to bolster Wuhan’s overwhelmed medical system. Hospitals were crammed with patients and field clinics thrown up to handle the overflow.
“I can’t save the world, but I can try my best with my tiny efforts to do what I can do to help,” Zhang said.
Her parents and grandparents worried about her decision to volunteer — and she herself prepared for the worst. She purchased life insurance that would benefit her parents if she succumbed to the illness. Having no children, she figured her husband could start over if she died.
Her husband having returned to his home province for the Lunar New Year holiday, Zhang's mother moved into their apartment in the city of Changchun to look after her plants and four dogs.
Zhang and the rest of her 133-member team had one day of orientation in early February before they were thrown into the fray.
It took 40 minutes to don the protective gear: four layers of protective gowns and gloves, three layers of shoe covers, two hats, two pairs of masks, goggles and a face shield. To avoid bathroom breaks, they wore adult diapers so they wouldn't waste time or gear by taking off the layers and having to dispose them.