PEMBROKE – A meeting of the Renfrew County Health Committee was held on the morning of Wednesday August 12 via Zoom.
Michael Nolan, Chief Paramedic and Director of Emergency Services, provided what he called a “behind the curtain view” of Covid-19 and how it is impacting local first responders. He explained that access to appropriate equipment continues to be an issue, even though mainstream media is not covering the issue as much as they had been earlier in the pandemic. He added that N95 masks are especially difficult to come by.
Nolan commented that staff has been fit-tested with seven to nine different types of protective equipment in order to make due with changes in supply sources.
The Director of Emergency Services explained that these shortages are likely to increase significantly once school opens again and the demand for personal protective equipment among teachers and other school staff increases.
He also pointed out that costs for personal protective equipment have skyrocketed. “This is going to be an exceptionally difficult year for us financially.”
He pointed out that they have had to increase storage capacity by 300 percent in order to accommodate the extra personal protective equipment, sanitation supplies and other products required to cope with the pandemic.
In addition to the added cost of supplies and protective equipment, managing new protocols is also time-consuming. He noted that during the upcoming flu season, first responders expect to face additional challenges since Covid symptoms and flu symptoms are so similar. If a patient presents with flu symptoms, first responders may have to assume that the patient has Covid-19 and follow the extra steps required. Additional sanitation procedures between patients are adding significantly to the time required.
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