Though pregnant when the coronavirus hit, Kristen Bageant never seriously considered backing away from her job as a medical assistant in an urgent care clinic or as a volunteer EMT.
At least, she didn’t until a month ago, when the eight-months-pregnant Orange County resident followed her doctor’s advice and stepped away from running rescue squad calls in Spotsylvania County.
Bageant, who interacted with several COVID-19 patients between her day job and running rescue squad calls, said she’s just not the kind of person who shies away from situations like that.
“I’m certainly not trying to downplay the dangers that the coronavirus presents, because it’s as serious as it can be,” she said. “But as long as I could take the precautions you need to in order to stay healthy and protect yourself, I wasn’t going to stop doing the jobs I’ve been trained to do.”
For her service in a challenging time, Bageant is a Hometown Hero.
She was nominated by her father, James Todd, who said she “always gives compassionate care to her patients as well as their families. Whether attending to serious injuries or offering reassurance, she puts her whole heart into her job.”
Todd noted that his daughter has been exposed to multiple confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the performance of her duties at the urgent care facility, “yet continues to focus on her mission daily with a dedication that amazes me.”
Bageant has one son with another on the way, and volunteers as a firefighter and emergency medical technician at the Thornburg station in Spotsylvania County. Her father said that not long ago, “her unit was first to arrive to an ATV accident and her quick response likely saved the leg of a little boy.”
Bageant remembers applying a tourniquet to the 13-year-old boy who had a severe injury around his kneecap.
“Even when your brain is going a thousand miles a minute, the adrenaline kicks you back to what you’ve been trained to do,” she said. “In the moment you have to be able to compartmentalize. But later on, your emotions can and will catch up to you, so it’s important to have people around you can talk to and get help from.”
Once, while off duty, she came upon the scene of an accident where a car had flipped over on a rural road.
“She immediately jumped out to render aid to her fellow citizens in their greatest time of need and stayed until help arrived,” her father said. “As a volunteer firefighter and EMT, she has been on many harrowing calls for help, always running toward the danger.”
Bageant said what just about every health care worker contacted so far has said about their jobs and COVID-19.
“We do what we do because we enjoy helping people,” she said. “I don’t know of one person who would do this for any sort of spotlight. We do it to help our patients.”
In her urgent care center job, the 29-year-old triages patients, assists with different procedures, does labs and provides other assistance as needed. The company she works for has a policy of asking employees to avoid publicity, so she asked that her company not be named.
“I got into the job because of my medical background with emergency medical services,” she noted, and said.
She said one patient presented with abdominal pain, so she and others didn’t know until tests came back later that they had been exposed to coronavirus.
“Abdominal pain isn’t something that you immediately think is COVID-related, and it was a little scary, but, all along, I was taking precautions, disinfecting and cleaning extensively, taking PPE seriously and following all the checklists to stay safe,” she said.
She self-quarantined after the exposure.
Bageant said being pregnant during the pandemic made her even more deliberate and dedicated to protecting herself and her family. She wasn’t about to let it take her away from patients at her day job or rescue squad volunteering until about a month ago.
Bageant said she had always had a desire to volunteer in EMS, and attended an open house in 2013 for volunteer firefighters and rescue squad service in Spotsylvania.
Getting the training and certifications as she went, Bageant started out as a probationary firefighter and fought fires, then added a basic EMT certification in the rescue squad side of the volunteer department, and began running rescue squad calls.
“I do enjoy it, and on some days have done fire and rescue, and on other days, just rescue operations,” she said.
Her sister, Amber Todd, is also an EMT, and they often work together on rescue squad calls.
And though she has some disdain for the whole notion of firehouse romances—“We kept it all off-duty and away from the station,” she said—she did meet her husband, Jonathan Bageant, while both were firefighters at the same station.
Kristen Bageant said she’ll take a break from her volunteering as her second child arrives, but expects to add that back into her routine as soon as she can.
“I especially love running calls with my sister, as we enjoy having that time together, doing something we’re both passionate about,” she said. “Once I’m cleared again by my OB–GYN, I’ll fit it back into my schedule. I truly enjoy serving our community.”