Peel paramedic contracts COVID-19 while at work
TORONTO -- A Peel paramedic has tested positive for COVID-19 after being exposed to the virus at work.
Peel Public Health said the paramedic and their partner were exposed while responding to a collision. PPH said the paramedics followed all procedures when they transported a patient to a hospital.
Only one paramedic contracted the virus, but both paramedics are in isolation at home, PPH said, adding that no other patients, paramedics or staff have been exposed.
"Thankfully, our paramedic is OK right now," Peter Dundas, Chief of Peel Paramedics, said in a statement.
Dundas said health officials only initially required paramedics to use personal protective equipment on COVID-19 calls at the time of the incident.
However, Dundas said Peel paramedics had started wearing face masks, gloves, and eye protection for all calls last week.
Peel Paramedics Union President Dave Wakely said the paramedic is doing well and is feeling better.
"Paramedics do an ultra-hazardous job. We knew that it's going to happen eventually," Wakely said.
Previously, paramedics could approach a patient, who has no symptoms and no travel history, without PPE because there was no evidence of community transmission, Wakely said.
As more community transmission cases are being reported, he said Peel paramedics have stepped up their protocols.
"And if they think that the person has the signs and symptoms of coronavirus, then they would go to a full-face respirator," Wakely said.
He said Peel paramedics have the gear they needed, adding that he is satisfied with how the region is handling these cases.
"As soon as we got the call that these folks were in contact with a person who later swabbed positive, they were immediately taken off, which allowed us to minimize exposure to other people in the operation," Wakely said.
Peel paramedics have also implemented other protective measures, which include asking bystanders and family members to leave the treatment area or provide them with a mask if they need to be there, no family members can be transported in the ambulance with a patient unless they are an unaccompanied minor, and no bags or personal belongings from the patient are allowed inside.
Peel Region has 485 cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday morning.