From the Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS) newsletter.
Scores of paramedics are unable to work because of strict safety measures implemented by Ambulance Victoria to protect its staff and the public from exposure to COVID-19. Ambulance Victoria’s executive director of clinical operations, Mick Stephenson, has confirmed to The Age that 81 paramedics are currently unavailable but insists that none of its 6000 operational staff have tested positive to coronavirus.
“It does not mean they have COVID-19, rather that they may have a cold, may have come into non-work related contact with a suspected case, are in self-isolation after returning from personal travel, or may have had work-related close contact with a suspected or potential COVID-19 patient and are therefore in self-isolation,” Mr Stephenson said.
Working on the frontline of the pandemic, Mr Stephenson said paramedics had adopted a range of precautions to mitigate their heightened risk of infection. Gloves, masks and protective eyewear must be worn for every case and when a patient is suspected of being infected paramedics are also required to wear splash-proof gowns. Many male paramedics have recently removed beards and other facial hair to ensure that their masks fit correctly.
Ambulance Victoria confirmed it has adjusted some of its clinical practices in response to the pandemic but would not specify how. It has modified procedures for intubation – in which a tube is inserted into a patient’s airway so they can be placed on a ventilator – to minimise potential exposure to the virus.
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