93 St John Ambulance paramedics self-isolating
St John is reminding the public of the importance of letting ambulance staff know if they or anyone in their household have been exposed to, have symptoms of or have tested positive for COVID-19.
St John currently has 93 frontline staff in self-isolation due to community contact with COVID-19.
These paramedics have been stood down from work until they return a negative test as per Ministry of Health guidelines.
“St John understands some people may fear that they will not get an ambulance response in these circumstances, but St John wants to reassure the public that ambulance crews continue to respond to all emergencies, at all alert levels,” says St John Deputy Chief Excutive – Ambulance Operations Dan Ohs. “However, in order to respond safely, we are asking patients and their support persons to be upfront about whether they’ve been exposed to the virus.
St John ambulance officers are trained and experienced in infection control practice, and deal with infectious diseases all year round.
“To limit the risk of infection and to protect our people and the public, frontline staff routinely wear Ministry of Health – MOH - recommended personal protective equipment – PPE - such as masks and gloves when attending all patients, and change these between patients. They are also pausing before entering a scene to ask screening questions to determine the appropriate level of PPE to be worn.”
In response to feedback from ambulance officers, who are reporting regular instances of patients and those in their household not providing accurate answers to COVID-19 screening questions, St John has made the decision that all frontline ambulance officers in the wider Auckland region will now be required to wear full airborne PPE, including gowns, eye protection, gloves, and N95 masks, to all routine call outs to keep them safe.
For the rest of New Zealand, ambulance crews will continue to wear regular PPE but will wear full airborne PPE in instances where a patient or someone in their household has symptoms or may have been exposed to COVID-19.
“St John knows these are challenging times and is confident we can continue to provide a safe and timely service to the public as long as crews are informed appropriately. We appreciate the cooperation and support from the public to keep our frontline crews safe and operational,” says Dan.