CORNWALL, Ontario – Helping those in distress is the job of a paramedic, and that job can be dangerous even in normal situations, but the COVID-19 pandemic, is not a normal situation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way everyone lives their lives. For most, the pandemic has meant staying home, not going out, and this is done to keep the population separated, but safe.
For paramedics, it is the opposite. They do not have the luxury of staying home and staying socially distant from others.
Now, more than ever, paramedics are being asked to go out into the world and help fight the pandemic on the frontlines.
This is true for our own Cornwall and SD&G paramedics. Since March, Cornwall and SD&G paramedics have been doing at home testing for COVID-19.
This testing is available to the most vulnerable members of the population for whom going to an assessment centre is either not feasible or is too much of a risk.
These tests are necessary to help track the progress of COVID-19 in our community and to get help to those who need it while keeping everyone else safe, but it also exposes Cornwall paramedics to this highly contagious virus.
Thankfully, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit has yet to report any cases of COVID-19 in any paramedics.
To date, the Cornwall and SD&G paramedics have conducted hundreds of at home COVID-19 tests and that number includes some of the area’s nursing homes.
There are approximately 20 members of the Cornwall and SD&G Paramedic Service who have been trained to do at home COVID-19 testing.
“There is definitely a fear,” said Leigh Wheeler, a paramedic with 15 years of experience and the one responsible for training paramedics in at home testing.
The paramedics are given Personal Protective Equipment and Wheeler said that the Cornwall and SD&G paramedics were fortunate that they were not experiencing shortages.
“We will be able to see this thing to the end,” he said. “Which is hopefully soon.”