Madrid ambulance crew sees hope amid the heartbreak

Madrid's regional ambulance service now averages 4,000 calls a day, a figure that's jumped by a third since coronavirus struck.

Dr Navid Behzadi Koochani is a 15-year veteran of the service.

Despite high morale, a year of being on the frontlines is taking its toll.

He admits it can be gruelling.

"Of course it is a tough job, nobody likes having someone die in their arms, people of all age and with all sorts of pathologies, it is true, but in the end you realize that you can help people in the worst moments of their lives. Saving a life is priceless and there is no feeling comparable to it."

Stress on medical personnel is a major concern.

A recent study found 45% of Spain's healthcare staff ran a high risk of mental disorder after the first wave, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sara Diaz is a nurse on the team.

"During the first wave, when every citizen was confined to their homes, we didn't stop attending emergencies, positive patients, you have to get undressed and dressed again, take them to hospital, they are really ill… Sometimes we couldn't arrive in time and the patient was already dead in their homes. Those were truly bad and distressing days."

Spain has been hit harder than most countries in Europe with more than 3 million cases and over 71,000 deaths.

But the infection rate has now fallen to its lowest since August, providing hope that the end is in sight.

Navid Dehzadi: "It has been a tough year, at an emotional level, it has been very complex because until the vaccines arrived we didn't know what exactly was going to happen. Thank God we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm always optimistic and I think that in a few months we will be able to get rid of the face masks, hug each other and have a beer with our friends."