When nurse Charlie Adams left North Texas in March to join the COVID-19 emergency response team in New York, she knew she was facing the challenge of a lifetime.
Adams went to bolster the ranks of traumatized and overworked healthcare workers who are doing all they can to save lives in a city hit hard by the coronavirus.
She's volunteering at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, the so-called epicenter of the coronavirus. The hospital has been in the news and Adams, who has been there a week now, says it situation is as bad as you've heard.
"It's basically survival mode at this point -- you come in, supplies are running out, we're running out of ventilators, we're wearing our N-95s for a week at a time," Adams said. "We are just trying to help these patients as much as we can and give them what we can, basically just help them breathe."
Adams is a Midlothian-born, Texas Tech-educated, Fort Worth resident who normally works at Lone Star Endoscopy. Since those offices are temporarily closed because of the pandemic, she went where she was needed.
"These nurses here in New York… they are the strongest nurses," Adams said. "They have been doing this for weeks and they keep going with a smile on their face and they just keep fighting."
Adams described the hardest moments while taking a quick break in a quiet hospital corner while wearing full protective gear.
"It's absolute chaos, when there's codes and intubations and lack of supplies, it's absolute chaos," she said. "People are just rallying together to come up with everything they can to save these patients and it's really inspiring to see these people from all over the world, all over the country, that have never met each other working to save peoples lives. It just keeps me going really."
And there are other inspiring moments, like last week, when firefighters pulled up outside during a shift change for doctors and nurses. Heroes applauded heroes.
Adams invited people to join her on her deployment on the Facebook blog TX RN Takes On NYC.
"I don't have the words to describe how hard today was," she wrote on Day 7, a day filled with loss. "I want to give up so badly but I know I need to stay! As long as i can… I will stay… God knows his plan for me!"
Heartbreak is evident as Adams describes losing patients in the battle against COVID-19.
"It's just heartbreaking. Four of my six patients are either vented or they passed away and none of their families were there. We're trying to call families to tell them good-bye, it's heartbreaking, nothing can prepare you for that," she said. "Right now, I am just in adrenaline fight mode, I think it will all hit me later and I don't know how I'm going to feel.
Volunteers in the COVID-19 emergency response team commit to work for up to three weeks. Adams wants to make it to 14 days, and then she'll see how she feels.