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Meet the Sudbury paramedics mobile testing for COVID-19 across the city
SUDBURY -- When you look at who has been on the front-line, responding to COVID-19, paramedics are among the first who are answering the call.
In Sudbury, the city has recently rented two vans that have been involved in mobile testing for the novel coronavirus.
"Some of it's basically what we do on an ongoing basis, like patient interaction, assess patients," said Jason Cameron, one of the advanced care paramedics stationed in these vans.
"In this specific role, swabbing and going out and dealing with high risk patients that present with some of the common symptoms, it's a little stressful I guess."
Cameron says these calls have taken more time and there is a lot more personal protective equipment (PPE) needed in their assessments.
"It's explaining to people too, how we're trying to mitigate this in the community so it's important work, not too stressful for myself anyway," he said.
On any given day, the teams in these vans conduct on average anywhere between 8 to 12 tests for COVID-19.
He says they've been getting new updates in screening tools on a regular basis, so it's been a lot to keep up with as they treat those in need of urgent care.
"There's all these questions that we ask before we enter a residence or wherever they may be, whereas before we'd go with just our basic equipment," said Cameron.
The teams who have been in these vans and even standard ambulances have been doing a lot of work to ensure they don't contract the virus or pass it onto their loved ones at home.
The vans they're driving have enough head room where most can stand in the back. They're also large enough to be divided into 3 zones; a hot zone, warm zone and a cold zone.
The zoning is to prevent contamination and to keep their workplace as clean as possible.
"I have a son so I come to work, I bring an extra change of clothes, I shower at work, I throw the clothes I've worn all day into a bag and get to the cleaners, just that kind of stuff," said Cameron.
"It's a necessary requirement.'"
"We're in peoples' homes, we're the first responder that sees these people with ailments right off the hop when we bring them to the hospital so I think we fit, it's just a fit for us. And I think some of us, with the COVID, it weighs on people a little more than it normally does, especially if you have a young family with a wife and what not, it's what we do," he added.
According to the deputy chief, the city has been busy keeping staff up to date with best practices as the frequent changes coming down the line from the Ministry of Health and Public Health.
"I'm extremely proud of all my front-line staff, the work they're doing out there, every day they come to work, they're putting on their uniform and they're going out and doing exceptional work," said Paul Kadwell, Deputy Chief of Sudbury's Paramedic Services.
Kadwell says it's individuals like Cameron and his partner that are working to keep Sudbury safe and it's helping Ontario to flatten the curve.
It's also another reason why he's asking people to be truthful when they answer questions about what sort of symptoms they might have.
"That way we can better prepare the paramedics when they arrive on scene so that they do have the proper PPE donned when they show up to the scene so that's the messaging that I would really like to get out to the public, just be honest and truthful when answering the questions. We will always respond," said Kadwell.