When he is not managing tyres in the F1 paddock or at work at the Pirelli offices and factories, Pirelli’s Head of F1 and Car Racing, Mario Isola doubles up as an ambulance driver and paramedic. Isola has been a volunteer ambulance driver and paramedic for the last 30 years. As F1 has also gone under lockdown due to the coronavirus, Isola is now back home in Italy and is clocking in as many hours as he can ferrying patients infected with COVID-19 from their homes to the hospital.
The coronavirus has choked the entire world and forced nations to go under lockdown after the deadly virus originated from China. Isola’s home country, Italy was the most affected after China and Milan’s health authority has been under significant pressure since. The volunteer medical service Croce Viola Milano, which Isola is part of, has been crucial.
The Croce Viola Milano consists of 150 volunteers who work in shifts to ensure a 24-hour service is available. Isola who is frequently travelling for Formula One tries to make up for his lost hours as much as he can when he is back in the country.
Following the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix and Formula One being put on hold, Isola clocked two weeks of isolation when he returned from Melbourne. On April 5, Isola finished his first shift after his return to help Italy fight the coronavirus and since has clocked in four more. Each shift consists of 10-12 hours that run overnight and Isola manages them between his day job at Pirelli. On days when Isola holds his voluntary shifts, he works on just two hours of sleep.
A typical shift consists of nine missions. As the programme has a shortage of ambulance drivers, Isola contributes predominantly towards the task. However, he is qualified to do all the roles including the team leader.
Isola says one mission included an old lady aged over 80 who was ill with fever and breathing problems which made it 90% a definite COVID-19 case. This mission was one of the hardest explains Isola as he says “To take this grandmother from the family, you don’t know what to say. You try to support them but you don’t want to lie. You don’t want to say something that is not true or give them hope so it’s very difficult.”
When Isola is not driving ambulances or working for Pirelli, he also helps with fundraising for the Croce Viola Milano medical service to provide social support to those who are struggling to make ends meet in this crisis as well as providing training via video calls to potential ambulance drivers. Isola is currently talking with an association in the red zone Codogno, the epicentre of Italy’s COVID-19 crisis, for the training for drivers and paramedics via video conferencing.
Source: Formula One
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