Two words quickly scribbled on a piece of paper.

"Has potential" - followed by a big exclamation mark.

He still remembers the day he made the note.

It was the day when it was clear that a plane from the Chinese region of Wuhan, which was severely affected by the corona virus, would fly out German citizens and land at Frankfurt Airport.

"I was present at the very first staff meeting when Covid didn't even exist here." At that time, he remembers, a colleague gave an assessment of the situation.

The virus, so much seemed clear after the meeting, “has potential”.

Marie Lisa Kehler

Deputy head of the regional section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

  • Follow I follow

The exclamation mark makes it clear what a colleague in infectiology already suspected at the time.

This virus would shake up a lot – including his own professional life.

Because from the day Peter Waterstraat sat in the first crisis meeting, his everyday work was different.

In the time before the outbreak of the corona pandemic, the thirty-nine-year-old was responsible for coordinating psychosocial emergency care.

"I'm trying to prepare the city of Frankfurt for larger damage situations," he says.

Crises are his job.

Especially those that appear suddenly and without any warning.

Short, severe cuts, such as an accident with many injured or an attack.

Unlike any scenario he had imagined before

"I sit at my desk and think about things that I hope will never happen." Waterstraat draws up plans on how first aid can be provided for the souls of the emergency services and those affected in an emergency.

For this he works together with the police and the fire brigade and above all with the emergency pastoral care.

But the pandemic was different from all the scenarios he had previously imagined, he says.

Not all consequences, especially not those for the psyche, were immediately recognizable.

Waterstraat - who studied "Master of Disaster", as he says himself - has a degree in disaster management.

During the pandemic, it will also be used in case submission from the start.

He coordinates a team of employees who ensure that the positive PCR results are reported to the Robert Koch Institute.

But especially in the early days, when the number of cases was even more manageable and attempts were still being made to keep in touch with the infected by telephone, he took over the conversations with those who were particularly suffering from the situation.

For example the one with a woman in her mid-50s whose husband died after contracting Corona.

At this point, she herself is also stuck at home with a positive result, paralyzed with grief and full of fear that her own health could deteriorate.

"In the Covid situation, we were the only ones who had access to people," recalls the thirty-nine-year-old.

This was also a burden for the employees, for whom psychosocial support was also offered.