First response during the reality of COVID-19

First responders during the reality of COVID-19 in Edmonton
WATCH ABOVE: The added pressures, the risks, the new ways they're responding to calls — Vinesh Pratap explains how first responders are adjusting to the reality of COVID-19.

The world may be at somewhat of a standstill, but life continues for many, with first responders still busy with calls amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What has changed for our paramedics is they’re finding themselves now having to do what we call point of care assessment on all patients,” explains Darren Sandbeck, the chief paramedic with Alberta Health Services.

Upon initial contact, paramedics maintain social distance with a patient.

“The health and safety of our paramedics are paramount.”

READ MORE: What is physical distancing and how can you do it?

If the person can speak, questions will be asked about travel history, if they’ve been in contact with anyone who has COVID-19, or if experiencing symptoms.

This will determine if EMS staff use their personal protective equipment.

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“The little bit of extra time they take at the front end of that to ensure that they’re safe protects them and also protects the patient,” Sandbeck explained.

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For the Edmonton Police Service, chief Dale McFee says “we’re ready, we’re focused and we continue to evaluate how we take our calls for service on a daily basis.”

“We’ve got an emergency pandemic response command structure set up.”

Edmonton police chief on working in the public during a pandemic
Edmonton police chief on working in the public during a pandemic

Officers face unique challenges when responding to calls. Some suspects have even suggested that they have COVID-19 as a way to get police to back down.

“Quite frankly, there’s no time and place for that and we’re going to do our darndest to hold those people accountable,” McFee said.

READ MORE: Man showing up at ex’s home saying he has COVID-19 leads to charges: Edmonton police

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For those on the front lines, information is key as they respond to calls.

“If people do have to dial 911, we ask them to be as honest as possible with our EMS dispatchers,” Sandbeck said.