Saturday, November 27

Ambulance teams wearing full personal protective equipment urge the public to be honest and patient


St John’s teams in Auckland now have to wear full airborne personal protective equipment on every call.

St John Ambulance parked at a depot in central Auckland.

St John Ambulance parked at a depot in central Auckland.
Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

This means gowns, eye protection like face shields, gloves and N95 masks, all replaced after each patient.

As of yesterday, St John had 93 employees in self-isolation due to community contact with Covid-19.

The emergency service said most of these workers were temporarily removed, pending negative tests, after patients gave inaccurate answers to Covid-19 screening questions.

Deputy Executive Director Dan Ohs said the staff saw three to five people a day with Covid, including transfers to and from MIQ, but had a lot of experience in infection control in ambulances.

“We have what I would best describe as a bug bomb, we try to use that as much as we can. Every time we interact with a patient that we know has Covid, we do our equivalent of deep cleaning.”

St John receives hundreds of calls a day and it takes staff, on average, an additional seven minutes to complete each call in Auckland when inspection, cleaning and use of Delta’s personal protective equipment are completed.

Ohs said ambulances would attend calls regardless of patients’ Covid-19 status, but needed the public to be honest about their symptoms and Covid-19 exposure.

“We are really asking the public to be really open with us.”

St. John’s staff is not required to be vaccinated, but they have all been offered injections, and the administration estimates that more than 90 percent have taken them so far.

St John is currently compiling the vaccination status of each staff member.

First Union Ambulance Coordinator and former St John staff member Faye McCann supported the ambulance service’s decision to increase the use of PPE in Auckland.

He said it had been a difficult time for staff who needed to isolate themselves after the exposure.

“Obviously it is very frustrating for them because this then happens to their families, so their families have also had to isolate themselves. Many of our members also live with other essential workers.”

Wellington Free Ambulance Medical Director Andrew Swain said his colleagues were reviewing and incorporating the latest guidelines from the WHO, the Ministry of Health and the CDC on a daily basis.

He said crews adjusted their PPE based on the call, language barriers, patient awareness and the treatment they needed, rather than using the most comprehensive option each time.

“In cardiac arrest, there are certain things that need to be done as immediately as possible. These include chest compressions and defibrillation and that can be done with a basic level of PPE. Then the second team will have the full PPE and they will be able to deal with it. with the patient’s airway and breathing, which of course is potentially more threatening. “

Auckland ER nurse and University of Auckland professor Dr. Natalie Anderson said that people typically did not think their best in health crises and Delta made it even more difficult to process patients at the hospital.

“We wear masks, which makes it very difficult for people who are used to partial lip reading, and sometimes we may depend more on family members to help us translate some of those ideas. So be patient with the screening process. It will take us a couple more minutes to really be sure that we are taking care of people in the right places. “

She said the healthcare system was already stretched before Covid-19, so infection protocols were needed not only to protect patients but also first responders.

“People must recognize that we are a precious and limited good, we are not drones that are just going to step forward. There are no people to replace us if we get sick.”


www.rnz.co.nz

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