Dr. Chuck Wright has seen his fair share of tragedies in California.
As a CAL-MAT volunteer this past year, he's been deployed to different fires across the state, treating firefighters and aiding displaced residents. But nothing would prepare him for the world’s latest catastrophe, where he would come face-to-face with the ruthless onslaught of COVID-19.
“There’ve been outbreaks like Ebola but those have been confined to small areas,” Wright told NBC 7. “This one, this is a worldwide pandemic. While we deal with influenza that happens, this one’s nasty.”
So far, he’s been deployed to San Mateo County and Monterey County to help in the novel coronavirus fight, where he and his team have helped ease the strain on hospitals and help those who have tested positive. It’s taken a toll, forcing a 62-year-old man to reckon with an unforgiving 16 to 18-hour workday and countless what-if moments that could put his life at risk.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit scary being in my 60s,” Wright said. “I’m actually at higher risk. It’s always on the back of my mind when I'm caring for someone who's positive and they’re coughing on me.”
And to add to his woes, he’s not the only one in danger.
After his deployments, he returns home to his wife who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Out of an abundance of caution, he isolates from her -- a brief reprieve done at a distance. Despite that, Wright’s instinct to help others in need has been his drive.
“My desire to help goes beyond my personal fear,” he said.
He hopes people who can afford to help will take the initiative and sign up. He said the battle lines aren’t reserved solely for those with advanced medical expertise.
“It doesn’t mean you have to go in and all of a sudden be performing at a real high level,” Wright said. “There are many roles that can be filled by people with some medical knowledge.”
And as for his own fight with COVID-19, he’s not done yet.
He’s already packed up his things and is ready for his next deployment. He said he’s scheduled for Los Angeles next, but says that could change.