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Student reveals why he volunteered to work on covid intensive care unit

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You hold their hand and you feel them slip away,” recalls Caspar Michie of his time assisting on London’s biggest covid intensive care ward.

The 21-year-old LSE politics and international relations student was posted to the 15th floor of the Royal London hospital in January after being fast-tracked as a St John Ambulance volunteer shortly before Christmas.

Mr Michie did about 10 unpaid 12-hour shifts at the hospital, in Whitechapel. Speaking on the first anniversary of lockdown, he said his most poignant memory was holding the hand of a dying patient whose family was unable to be present.

Man in the mirror: Caspar Michie preparing for ICU

/ Caspar Michie

“One of the last things to go is your hearing,” he said. “Even in the patients who were passing away, you talk and talk to them and reassure them.

“I think it’s probably the most rewarding thing I have done to date in my life – and probably the most difficult thing I have done.”

Mr Michie, who lives in Hackney, was first tasked with helping to restock the drugs store-room, and then helped to “prone” (or turn) patients onto their stomach to improve their breathing.

As the nurses recognised his abilities, he was asked to monitor patients’ oxygen and fluid levels and measure their blood gases.

He would wash and shave patients and brush their teeth. All were in medically induced comas and oblivious to their care, or the panoramic view of the capital. “You try and do as much as you can to give them their humanity back,” he said.

Caspar Michie was fast-tracked by St John Ambulance to help with the second wave of the pandemic

/ St John Ambulance

Mr Michie said: “On my first shifts, I used to ask the nurse in charge of the unit if there were any patients who were particularly unstable that needed closer observation.

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