Emergency Services prepared for potential Covid-19 call-outs

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, March 11 2020

Gabriola’s emergency services have policies in place to protect themselves in the event that a call involves a COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) infection. That according to Gabriola Fire Chief Will Sprogis and Training Officer Captain Jethro Baker, who were reporting to the Board of the Gabriola Fire Protection Improvement District on March 4.

Baker said this past week the department’s training session had been split with two topics.

1. Going over operational guidelines to deal with a possibly contagious disease call and; 

2. Working with Cst. Patti Evans on how crews can work with RCMP on calls involving interpersonal violence.

Baker said the department is taking the recommendations on how to deal with COVID-19 from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Discussing the topic was timely, as news broke from Seattle of a department where over 30 members as well as police officers had been infected with coronavirus after being called out to a nursing home.

On March 5, media with BC Emergency Health Services (BC EHS) tweeted out images of paramedics doing a training session in Kelowna.

According to BC EHS, when paramedics attend a patient with a potential COVID-19 exposure, infection control procedures are immediately enacted, including full protective gear and provincial health notifications.

COVID-19 symptoms include fever, coughing, shortness of breath and muscle aches.

Sprogis said there are also discussions happening to request dispatch centres provide more information out to allow the first responders. This will allow them to assess what kinds of protection they need to have in place prior to arriving on a scene and going into a home.Trustee Diana Moher asked Baker and Sprogis if firefighters are covered through WorkSafe BC.

GFPID Corporate Officer Paula Mallinson said the GVFD is covered - including loss of work from “regular jobs” if firefighters are injured while performing their duties as firefighters.

Sprogis said the difficulty with the coverage is that it does not help if firefighters are self-employed and cannot seek out new contracts.

If someone believes have been infected with Covid-19, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) advises people to call their health-care provider ahead of time to be safely assessed - to avoid exposing any other persons at health care facilities.

Staff with the Gabriola Medical Clinic confirmed this past week their request to Gabriolans is in line with the BCCDC saying, “we are asking that people please call the clinic if they are concerned they have symptoms similar to COVID -19 and we would then have a doctor call them at home to assess.”

The Clinic can be called during open hours at 250-247-9922. After-hours, or for access to a HealthlinkBC nurse, call 811.

As of Monday, March 9, there was a total of 32 cases of Covid-19 in British Columbia, with one death announced on Monday. All of the cases as of March 9 were in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions and were confirmed positive, based on BC Centre for Disease Control testing.

For the most up-to-date information on Covid-19 in BC, and a massive amount of information on the infection, visit the web site for the BCCDC at www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-(novel)

Those without internet can access the information through the Gabriola Public Library computer terminals.