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Coronavirus: Peterborough paramedics testing dozens for COVID-19; police equipped for pandemic

How are first responders in Peterborough staying safe?
While many of us are now working from home to prevent the spread of the virus, that's not an option for police officers, paramedics and fire fighters. Katrina Squazzin tells us how front-line workers are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emergency responders in Peterborough are tackling the coronavirus pandemic with additional precautions.

Peterborough County-City Paramedics have been assisting Peterborough Public Health, Peterborough Regional Health Centre and other health-care providers by conducting in-home tests for COVID-19. The service was launched last week.

READ MORE: First hospitalized case of COVID-19 in Peterborough, health unit says

According to paramedics chief Randy Mellow, as of Thursday, paramedics have tested 84 individuals in the city and county. The health unit reported Thursday its first hospitalized case of COVID-19 is a patient who was initially tested at home by paramedics.

“The idea there is to obviously keep people safe and to keep people in that environment so we can decrease the spread (of the virus),” said Mellow.

Mellow notes extra precautions are being taken for paramedics in the field with equipment that was saved for situations such as the coronavirus pandemic.

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“We have gloves. We have hand sanitizer. We have gowns. We have face shields. And we have a supply of masks,” he said. “So that remains our primary focus: protecting our staff, protecting the public.”

The Peterborough Police Service also said frontline officers are also utilizing personal protective equipment that has always been available to officers, according to police Chief Scott Gilbert.

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“They’ve been trained on that in the past,” he said. “Obviously we deal with people that are ill, bleeding all the time, unfortunately. Our members are trained in that, but we’ve made it much more readily accessible.”

READ MORE: Toronto police civilian tests positive for COVID-19, all stations closing to public

Both Mellow and Gilbert say that while frontline staff currently have enough equipment, they admit they’re concerned about a future potential shortage.

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“Our masks though will dwindle as the number of usages go up,” said Mellow. “We have to protect our paramedics on each and every call so we know they will be dwindling. We are looking for help on that.”

“Unfortunately what we’re seeing is there is a big backlog in the supply chain,” added Gilbert.

Peterborough Fire Services chief Chris Snetsinger stated calls for service at dispatch are screened and on scene to ensure the safety of their firefighters.

“Our staff are practising hand-hygiene and disinfecting high-touch areas regularly to ensure we are maintaining our safe workplace,” he said.

Peterborough Regional Health Centre has launched an appeal for donations of personal protective equipment.

COVID-19 pandemic complicates work of paramedics
COVID-19 pandemic complicates work of paramedics