Ambulances pushed to the limit in northern Italy

The pressures of the pandemic continue for rescue workers from the Milan White Cross, as they work to help patients needing urgent COVID-19 care.

The small number of paid staff, along with some 130 volunteers from the non-profit organization work tirelessly across the city of Monza in the badly hit Lombardy region, transferring COVID-positive patients, and patients suspected to have the virus from their homes to hospital.

Their services were pushed to the brink at the start of the year and it’s a similar story during the current second wave.

Almost all the calls they receive are from people who need oxygen. However, this time around White Cross members say there is an increase in the number of younger people suffering with virus.

Ruggero Garibaldi is one of the White Cross rescue workers.

“It scares me to see patients of my age. We rescue workers usually meet older patients, or people with other illnesses. Or younger people who suffered accidents. But to see middle-aged patients who have pneumonia symptoms or breathing difficulties is not easy to accept.''

The White Cross crews are not paramedics and can’t administer drugs, but they can give oxygen and have a tiny defibrillator for use if needed.

Monza’s world famous racetrack, which hosts the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix is another stop on the White Cross crew's route.

Parts of track has been have also been transformed into an area for 'green code' cases, patients with non-serious cases.

White Cross staff get patients to the checkpoint area where medical staff assess them and carry out rapid coronavirus tests if needed.