‘Made Me More Appreciative’ – Alyse Anderson Recalls Harrowing Experience As EMT On COVID-19 Frontline
Alyse Anderson is now a full-time mixed martial artist, training hard for her bout with Stamp Fairtex on Friday, May 5, but a few years ago, she was helping people through the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 28-year-old American – who will return to the Circle in front of a home crowd at ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III on Prime Video to face #1-ranked Stamp in Colorado – was an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) before the virus shook the world.
‘No One Wanted To Do That Job’
Back then, Anderson had already started her journey in MMA, but with only regional show purses to live off, she had to make end meets with a full-time job.
So, she put her previous college qualifications to good use.
“Lil’ Savage” explained:
“I knew that eventually, I wanted to go into the medical field at some point. I had my prerequisites done when I played college soccer. But I wanted to go pro in MMA so I stopped playing soccer, and I stopped going to school so I could just focus on fighting.
“I was only fighting locally at the time. I was with TWC, the promotion down the road [which took place] in a hotel. So my mom was like, ‘You need to get a job between these fights.’ So I went back to school to get my license.”
Anderson started working in a hospital and initially enjoyed her role, but when the pandemic hit, it quickly morphed into something different.
They were uncertain times, and as a young, healthy person, the Michigan native was deemed fit and able to offer one-to-one care to people seriously ill with COVID-19.
This meant 12-hour shifts in full personal protective equipment – including two masks and an air pressure helmet. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, but “Lil’ Savage” knew she had to fulfill her duties, especially after some support from her mother.
“The first time, when they told me, ‘You’re doing a one-to-one today,’ I just went to the bathroom and bawled my eyes out. I called my mom, and I was like, ‘Do I go home? What do I do? Do I say no?’ And she told me, ‘Deep breaths and go do your job.’
“No one wanted to do that job. Every single person would come with a doctor’s note saying why they couldn’t be in a COVID room or why they couldn’t wear a mask for that long. I’m a professional athlete. Very fit. I didn’t have many of the risk factors. And also, I wasn’t really going to try to stop doing my job – it was my job, even if I didn’t like it.”
Gaining A New Perspective
Alyse Anderson’s time on the COVID-19 frontline was extremely difficult, but it gave her a new lens through which to view her life.
“Lil’ Savage” saw people dying in the wards and families losing their loved ones, and as much as lockdowns meant she couldn’t fully chase her MMA dreams, it made her grateful for all the positives.
In good physical condition and with her family in strong health, everything else paled in comparison:
“Before I was definitely the type of person that would say fighting is my whole life. If I didn’t win, my life was over. But then to know my family’s healthy, [you can see losing] is not the end of the world.
“I love fighting, and it means so much to me, but it put it into perspective with people dying and people not being able to say goodbye to their families.
“You get so hung up on things in your world, then when you have some perspective, that’s really what it did to me, and it made me more appreciative for what I have.”