Saskatoon paramedics asking all patients to wear surgical masks

Saskatoon paramedics asking all patients to wear surgical masks
Saskatoon’s Medavie Health Services West paramedics will be asking all patients to wear a surgical mask during the COVID-19 pandemic. File / Global News

An updated policy with Saskatoon’s Medavie Health Services West (MHS West) will have paramedics asking all patients to wear a surgical mask during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medavie public affairs director Troy Davies said this new practice was implemented last week and came from a Saskatchewan Health Authority recommendation to ensure frontline paramedics are being safe.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan NDP leader encouraging public to wear masks to slow the spread of COVID-19

“Effective immediately, any patient that we respond to, whether they have [personal protection equipment] PPE requirements or not, we’re going to be asking patients to wear surgical masks,” he said on Monday.
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“In any emergency, if you fall and you break your ankle, the last thing you’re thinking about is to say, ‘oh, I was in Phoenix, Ariz., last week.’”

Davies said the new policy a matter of getting treatment quicker.

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“Rather than us walking up, realizing that you are in self-isolation and that we didn’t know,” Davies said.

“We’d have to go back to the ambulance, don our PPE equipment then come and treat you. So it’s for benefit of the patient as well to ensure that we have all the information when responding to calls.”

READ MORE: Canadians stuck in South Africa because of COVID-19 wait for answers

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Davies said, currently, none of their paramedics have been in isolation.

“It’s just another tool to make sure that we’re not being exposed because, again, our biggest fear and our largest fear across the board is if our paramedics do contract COVID-19, it could be devastating for our organization,” Davies said.

“So we’re working daily to ensure that we have proper practices and procedures in place from cleaning hands to cleaning units across the board to make sure that best practices to ensure that our staff don’t get sick and we continue to respond to emergencies when needed.”

He noted that call volume has pretty much been the same with no major spikes during the pandemic.

“We’re starting to see maybe some mental health issues with some seniors as well who are isolated and not having any contact with anyone,” Davies said.

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“That’s messaging we’ll be getting out there as well to remind people to call their loved ones or if you have a neighbour who’s a senior and obviously you haven’t seen them, just to give them maybe a phone call… those are things that will definitely help down the road.”

Medavie also responds to Warman, Martensville, Osler and other smaller communities around Saskatoon.

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.

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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.