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Coronavirus: Saskatchewan paramedics want ‘honest’ information when responding to calls

Paramedics say people in Saskatchewan need to be honest over the phone.
Paramedics say people in Saskatchewan need to be honest over the phone. Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/Global News

People are being asked to be honest and upfront when calling 911 for medical assistance.

LeeAnn Osler, the deputy chief of the medical communications centre for Medavie in Saskatoon, said this is the only way to ensure paramedics responding to a call are properly prepared for potential COVID-19 exposure.

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“If [your] chief complaint is shortness of breath or a fever, we will catch the PPE precautions in our call screening,” Osler said in a statement on Friday.
“However, if [your] chief complaint is something entirely different, like a fractured leg from falling from a ladder while working from home, pre-screening for PPE could be missed.”
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Just this week, paramedics attended a call where the person was complaining of chest pain.

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“When we walked in expecting to do a full cardiac workup on the patient, we found out that the patient was out of town in the States a week before, and now our paramedics had to immediately go out of the house, go back to the ambulance, get in the full PPE gear to go back in,” said Troy Davies with Medavie Health Service West.

“There was a possible exposure there our paramedics might have been exposed to, and the detriment that that could have on us to have any paramedics exposed front-line and then they’re gonna go to the ER and now they’re working with nurses.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: How paramedics are protecting against COVID-19 in Saskatoon

Osler said communication specialists are the front line for 911 medical emergency calls and need as much information as possible before paramedics arrive.

“We ask that anyone calling for an ambulance anywhere in the province of Saskatchewan be up front and honest,” Osler said.

“It’s imperative that our communications specialists know if you have been tested for COVID-19, have been at any gatherings with 10 or more people in the last 14 days, or if you have any signs and symptoms that include fever, cough, or shortness of breath.”

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Osler said following this advice will keep paramedics safe as they assist people in their time of need.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here

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