Regional Emergency Services are updating their protocol for emergency calls during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anyone who calls 9-1-1 will still be asked the regular questions from a dispatcher, however, they will now have additional questions to determine whether they have the virus.
This includes any potential symptoms, travel-history, and known to have been in contact with a positive case.
Fire Chief Jody Butz tells Mix News this is important information for crews.
“It’s front of mind for our response staff, ‘what call am I going to now, is it COVID,’ so that information really puts everyone at ease.”
If it’s determined the caller may have the virus, crews will wear additional personal protective equipment. This includes gloves, a mask, face shield, goggles, hair cover, apron, and shoe covers.
Instead of an entire crew entering the residence, one member will assess the patient while following all physical distancing measures.
If the person is having trouble breathing, the crew will contact a medical doctor who will need to give the green light for them to be transferred to the hospital to get treated for the virus.
“It’s precaution to protect our staff, it’s precaution to protect our patient, and it’s also doing our part to prevent the transfer of this virus,” added Butz.
He notes the main form of treatment remains staying at home unless it’s an emergency situation.
Those who may have mild symptoms are asked to call 8-1-1 to speak to a member of Alberta Health Services.
Butz says 9-1-1 should only be used for an emergency.
“We are still responding to non-COVID related calls. If someone falls down and breaks their leg, those aren’t COVID-related but we’re still having to go to those calls.”
RES has attended multiple potential COVID situations. They currently average between 4-5 a day.