Essential workers family see light at tunnel end
IT HAS been a long and hard road for a family of Mackay essential workers coping during the COVID-19 pandemic but finally there is light at the end of the tunnel as restrictions ease and life returns to normal.
Mum Emma Pullen, an essential health worker, was under enormous pressure at her Sydney Street Medical practice in Mackay.
"The increased number of patients worried about getting COVID-19, the possibility of contracting the virus and a shortage of personal protective equipment and flu vaccinations made it a stressful time, with some patients getting aggressive," Mrs Pullen said.
"I was also worried about having to lay off staff if business got any worse."
Mrs Pullen said there had been a lot of fake news circulating at the beginning of the pandemic but that had subsequently improved as people became more educated on the subject.
"Some of the elderly patients were using hairdryers or steaming their nostrils believing the heat would kill the virus," Mrs Pullen said.
Her husband Jason, a fitter and turner mining contractor, also had to work around the strict regulations at the mines.
"Work slowed down as restrictions tightened," Mr Pullen said.
"Travel permits were needed, the number of people allowed in cars was limited and if you wanted to travel further than 50km you had to get letters of exemption from management."
Their eldest son Brodie, 19, a third year apprentice electrician at Energy Base, had his work hours reduced.
"I was worried about losing my job at our small company and also whether the business qualified for JobSeeker support," Brodie said.
"It was also difficult working under the restrictions such as not being able to shake peoples' hands and having to keep a social distance from them when visiting homes on jobs.
"All the time there was concern too about being possibly exposed to COVID-19 when handling items in the homes where we worked."
The couple's youngest son Hayden, 17, a Year 12 student at Mackay State High School and a school-based fitter and turner apprentice, struggled with being caged indoors all day on the days he didn't attend school.
"It was boring for me not being able to socialise with my friends, or play football as everything was put on hold including my apprenticeship," Hayden said.
"Everything felt out of whack."
But the situation has eased signficantly for this tight-knit family.
"Things have now improved and I'm seeing my friends again and playing sport," Hayden said.
Brodie feels more relaxed now as the pandemic restrictions ease, knowing his job is secure
Both Mr and Mrs Pullen are glad to see life returning to normal and to see their children continuing with a structured existence and not living in each others' pockets.