Emergency hotlines in China search for volunteers as COVID further stretches the country’s healthcare system.

Mainland news agency The Paper reported on December 27 that Shenzhen 深圳 Emergency Center has been calling for citizen volunteers for days. Overwhelmed by skyrocketing emergency calls, it is looking for at least 50 citizen dispatchers to keep the hotline available 24-hour.

Candidates can be between 18 and 35 years old, speak Mandarin fluently with clear pronunciation, have no criminal or drug abuse record, have good health, and have no mental condition.

According to the report, the department has received non-stop calls since December 7, when COVID has only started to pick up pace in China. The department later warned citizens to avoid unnecessary calls to leave the lines open for critical cases, such as fainting, heart attack, dyspnea, and acute trauma, among others.

Shenzhen is only the latest to have been asking for public help. Other emergency centers across China have also turned to the public for help in the medical field. That included emergency centers in Hohhot and Baotou, cities in Inner Mongolia, Yinchuan in Ningxia Autonomous region, Shanghai’s Songjiang District, and Hangzhou in Zhejiang province.

Some needed assistance beyond emergency dispatchers, like medical staff, drivers, and stretcher-bearers. 

Even funeral homes require volunteers as more staff catch the coronavirus. According to Ming Pao newspaper, Shanghai’s largest cemetery Binhai Ancient Garden, on December 26, was looking for workers to carry out frontline positions involving corpse recovery, escort, and morticians.

It was also noted how onerous the current business volume and acute personnel and material resource deficit are for the three funeral homes affiliated with the Shanghai Funeral Service Center.

Unlike Shenzhen Emergency Center, the cemetery personnel even urged party members, cadres, and others who have recovered from COVID-19 to consider the roles.

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