The VP of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC says these first responders have a very low COVID-19 transmission rate despite seeing the virus daily.

Dave Deines said paramedics have to be extra careful due to their proximity to active COVID-19 cases. They start with doing a self-assessment every day. 

“Every day across this province paramedics respond to long-term care facilities, respond to facilities that have outbreaks, we transfer very sick patients that may be COVID positive between facilities (so, between hospitals), taking patients from long-term care facilities, or from their private residences to emergency departments,” said Deines.

He said COVID-19 transmission rates among paramedics are very low, despite being some of the closest people to the virus.

Deines said two things, in particular, are helping keep paramedics safe.

“Paramedics have received additional training, above what they would normally get with their baseline education when you go into paramedic school,” said Deines. “We receive a lot of education in personal protective equipment, both for respiratory illnesses as well as all the other communicable diseases. On top of that, we’ve received additional education on COVID-19 and influenza-like illness.”

He said paramedics have to ask questions when arriving on the scene to determine what personal protective equipment they need to stay safe. That equipment can range from respiratory and droplet protection (half-face N-95 respirator, a face shield, full gown protective gear, signs and symptoms to be aware of).