PEI

Detailed screening tells paramedics when to wear full protective gear

Island paramedics are donning protective equipment — gowns, gloves, mask and face shield — for several of their calls each day now.

'We would encourage everyone to be as forthcoming as possible when they call 911'

Island EMS paramedic Alison Larkin demonstrates use of protective equipment that is now required on calls where there's risk of exposure to COVID-19. (Island EMS)

Island paramedics are donning protective equipment — gowns, gloves, mask and face shield — for several of their calls each day now.

Island EMS gets about 70 to 80 calls a day. Five or 6 of those are for patients in self-isolation or showing symptoms that could indicate COVID-19.

"Patients understand that paramedics need to take precautions," said Jeremy Measham, operations manager for Island EMS. "They're they're not too surprised to see paramedics and other health care staff wearing these kinds of precautions."

The gear is used once and then thrown out. Supplies are holding up well, according to Island EMS. (Island EMS)

The gear is used once and then thrown away. Supplies are holding up well, according to paramedics.

Measham credits the use of screening measures — a series of questions about patients' symptoms and travel — for helping first responders know when they need to use protective gear, and when they can save the increasingly precious resources for future use.

"We would encourage everyone to be as forthcoming as possible when they call 911 and have interaction with paramedics," said Measham.

Paramedics say they're surprised by the amount of traffic on Island roads, despite COVID-19 precautions. (Island EMS)

So far, no COVID-19 symptoms have appeared among paramedics. The service remains fully staffed with 180 paramedics and 14 ambulances at bases in Souris, Montague, Charlottetown, Alberton and O'Leary.

Orders to wear the extra protection have been in place since early March, according to Island EMS.

Paramedics say they're surprised by the amount of traffic on Island roads, despite the COVID-19 shut-downs. 

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