A FORMER paramedic claims he caught Covid at work in 2020 though the matter has been labelled by the Welsh Ambulance Service as "negligent" as he was in the wrong PPE (personal protective equipment).

Patrick Connor from Abertillery explained the events that happened on October 6, 2020.

He said: "It was about 11 o'clock at night, I went to the house of an 80-year-old lady as she was complaining of shortness of breath.

"We was using PPE at the time. I was in what was called amber PPE, which was basically a plastic apron, blue paper mask and gloves.

"I attended to the lady, she did have shortness of breath but she was talking to me normally. But her condition started to deteriorate to the point where I had to treat her with nebulizers, you know, an oxygen mask with medication.

"Within 20 minutes or so, she'd arrested on me. She had a cardiac arrest."

Mr Connor explained he was working alone that night so he claims he had to call control and ask them to send back-up for what is known as a 'red response' because she was getting worse.

He added: "The policy with the ambulance was that I should have left her, gone back to my car, put on what is called red PPE, which consists of a white Tyvek suit, double gloves, mask and a visor.

"You're talking about six to eight minutes just to get into this kit. By this time, you know, this lady would have been dead."

The former paramedic explains, "The lady had her daughter with her, both tested positive for COVID and the daughter was pleading with me to help her, she was distraught."

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"I made the decision within that split second to start CPR. I did CPR by myself for only a few minutes when the crew arrived. Soon as they arrived, they was in the correct kit, because I pre-alerted.

"I left the patient while they continued CPR, got into the red PPE, came back and assisted the resuscitation."

Free Press Series: Patrick Connor has been diagnosed with numerous illnesses related to the lungs.Patrick Connor has been diagnosed with numerous illnesses related to the lungs. (Image: Patrick Connor)

Patrick Connor

After that, Mr Connor explains two doctors came to the scene and together they managed to bring the patient back to life twice, though she passed away at the scene later that same night. 

Two days after the incident, Mr Connor claims he tested positive for Covid.

Two days after that, he said he was hospitalised due to "a collapsed lung and pneumonia.

"After various consultations with a respiratory consultant, I was diagnosed with bronchiectasis, damage to lungs from the Covid, and I'm still having daily pain from the fibromyalgia, breathlessness from bronchiectasis, brain fog and terrible fatigue."

Absence leave

Mr Connor said the road to recovery "was long. It was about a year and a half to two years until I was fit to go back to work as part of a phased return."

After taking leave to recover, Mr Connor applied to have his Covid absence recorded as an industrial injury, which was rejected in September 2023.

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Free Press Series: Industrial injury claim form filled out by Mr Connor.Industrial injury claim form filled out by Mr Connor. (Image: Patrick Connor)

Mr Connor sent the results of his industrial injury assessment by the Welsh Ambulance service to The Argus, which said: "I am unable to approve the claim for recognition of long covid as an industrial injury.

"Patrick chose to commence both nebulisation and later, resuscitation in Level 2 PPE (amber) with the prior knowledge that the patient and daughter were Covid positive; moreover, Patrick was trained in the standard operating procedure which required him to take appropriate measures to protect himself (before commencing Advanced Life Support) with Level 3 PPE (red).

"It is established via The Trusts IPC & health and safety guidelines that the PPE would have protected Patrick from infection by the virus and therefore the long-term effects described would not have been suffered.

"These actions constitute attributable negligence."

Free Press Series: Letter sent to Mr Connor by the Welsh Ambulance Service, rejecting his COVID absence being recorded as an industrial incident.Letter sent to Mr Connor by the Welsh Ambulance Service, rejecting his COVID absence being recorded as an industrial incident. (Image: Patrick Connor)

Mr Connor reaffirms that taking several minutes to change protective gear would result in "a corpse on the floor, which is a pointless exercise".


When asked what Mr Connor hopes would happen in this case, he said he is "not looking for compensation".

He added: "All I'm looking for is for them to admit that this is industrial, caught at work, and it's not due to me being negligent.

"I was doing my job to the best of my ability. I was attempting to save somebody's life. That was my job. That's what I signed up to do."

Angela Lewis, director of people and culture at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “While we cannot comment on Mr Connor’s case specifically, we are sorry that he feels his concerns have not been adequately addressed.

"We will continue to liaise directly with Mr Connor to answer any further questions he has and to try and resolve any matters outstanding.”

Patrick Connor had to step down from his role as a paramedic and was redeployed to work for the 111 service.

A public inquiry investigating Wales’ response to the Covid pandemic began at the end of February.