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Even during pandemic, paramedics are still as busy as ever

'We’ve done a lot of things differently, but we haven’t changed our operations to the public as far as 911 calls. You call, we respond,' said paramedic Chief Kyle Sereda
ambulance 2
(file photo by Larissa Kurz)

While members of Moose Jaw and District EMS Paramedic Services have had to adapt how they respond to calls during the coronavirus pandemic, they are still as busy as ever.

The paramedics are doing well under the circumstances and have changed how they approach situations to ensure they stay healthy while attending to patients’ needs, explained paramedic Chief Kyle Sereda. It was stressful in the beginning since there were many changes they had to make, such as performing additional screening of patients.

The paramedic services organization has maintained a full complement of ambulances and paramedics during the pandemic so it can continue to respond to calls. It has also ensured those vehicles are well maintained.

“We’ve done a lot of things differently, but we haven’t changed our operations to the public as far as 911 calls. You call, we respond,” Sereda said. “That’s a good thing we’ve strived to maintain throughout this … .”

While members are questioned daily about how their physical health is, they also go through daily debriefings before and after their shifts to check on their mental health, he continued. There have been more mental health checks since the stresses have mounted during the past two months with call volumes and types of calls to which they are responding.

Many residents have been apprehensive about going to the hospital for their health issues since they’re uncertain about whether they even should go into the building, concerns that aren’t uncommon, Sereda explained. So, people continue to call 911 and Moose Jaw and District EMS paramedics continue to respond.

“Nothing has changed for us from that perspective. We certainly take a bit more precaution when we’re going to some of these calls due to COVID-19,” he said.

Paramedics continue to respond to the usual calls for service, such as heart attacks and strokes, but they are seeing an increase in calls around mental health and drug activity. Sereda was unsure if there was a correlation between the latter two issues and the pandemic, but pointed out mental illness can increase when people are confined at home.

While the organization keeps track of calls for drug activity and overdoses, Sereda was unsure if paramedics were seeing more of those calls. The past eight weeks of lockdown haven’t provided enough time to determine if there is a connection to any possible increases in drug overdoses.

Sereda added that he would have to speak with the Moose Jaw Police Service to review the data to determine if more drug overdoses and activity were occurring in the community.