Preparation is key as Peter moves into crisis mode

08/04/2020

In this series of articles we meet, recognise and celebrate some of the many members of the hockey community – administrators, officials, players – who are at the frontline in the fight to contain and stop Corona Virus. Our ‘Excellent Eight’ featured in this series represent the thousands of people from the European hockey family putting themselves and their health on the line at this unprecedented time.

Peter Elders is well known and highly respected in hockey circles. A former international umpire, he is currently a board member with both the European Hockey Federation and the KNHB.

But for now, all thoughts of hockey are put to one side because Peter is one of the frontline people immersed in the global battle that is supplanting everything else right now the ravaging impact of COVID-19.

Like so many of our hockey community, Peter’s day job is proving vitally important right now. He is facility services manager for two large hospitals in the Netherlands and currently he is spending every minute of his working day ensuring the hospitals are ready to receive the expected influx of Covid-19 patients.

“Basically my work load has doubled,” says Peter. “It is extremely busy as we are changing so many things in the hospital, just to be prepared for what is about to come. Doubling the number of Inten-sive Care beds, changing four, or maybe later more wings, into a designated Covid-zone.”

Using the lexicon of the current times, Peter says his day to day operations have shifted into “crisis mode” and he has daily updates to reassure the doctors and nurses that their needs will be met. It is “hard work, but very interesting”.

Preparation and anticipation are key to Peter’s role. He says things need to be in place before they are needed. He is also conscious that staff – both his own team and the hospital staff – need to stay fit, healthy and motivated. This calls for a fine balance of making time to listen to people but also keeping up the pressure to ensure the workforce deliver all that is needed.

And during all of this, of course, Peter also needs to take care of his own health. He says that he is working longer hours than normal, but he smiles “I don’t want to sound too brave by saying that we are working day and night because that is not quite the case.”

But there is no doubt that stress levels are higher than usual and Peter says he spends the majority of his time on the phone and behind a computer screen as he juggles all the demands of the job. Sleeping and eating are not yet proving a problem but he says his personal exercise regime has taken quite a hit.

As someone working with the medical staff on the frontline, Peter speaks from experience when he says: “I hope that people listen to the advice that government and medical experts give them. Keep the distances; don’t think you are invincible. You might be but the people you meet maybe are not. This may mean a total lockdown, I don’t know. We have now an 85 per cent lockdown [in the Netherlands] and if everyone follows the instructions, that should do it.”

Once the crisis has passed, Peter is optimistic that some good will have come from the whole situation. “We will have learned a few things. Such as, many of us can work at home effectively; that doctors can be consulted by Skype; and yes, that sport is very important but not the most important thing. Yes, hockey club life is off for some weeks, but associations are working very hard to find a great way to fill the months after COVID. So that we have a great end of this season despite everything.”

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