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Local paramedics mostly got COVID from each other, not from patients

Two ambulance crews were moved to two community hubs
Kate Kirkham Photo
Kate Kirkham is the city's new paramedic chief

An outbreak of COVID-19 among Sault Ste. Marie paramedics has been officially declared over.

"Today we were notified by APH [Algoma Public Health] that we are out of the outbreak status," said Kate Kirkham, who took over from Robert Rushworth as local paramedic chief on Nov. 1.

"We're clear of that and hoping that it continues to improve from here," Kirkham told a Thursday-night meeting of the District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board [DSSMSSAB].

"That was on Jan. 4 that APH implemented this outbreak status."

"We did have to call on the paramedics quite a bit to work some overtime. They really stepped up to the challenge," Kirkham said.

Measures were taken to prevent paramedics from being exposed to COVID-19 by each other.

"We are working in a tight area here at Old Garden River Road," she said.

At the suggestion of DSSMSSAB chief executive office Mike Nadeau, two ambulance crews were moved to community hubs at Goulais and Second Line, and at Chapple Avenue.

"We've now increased that so they're there at night as well. Which has really moved people around quite a bit, which has really helped keeping congestion down and decreased the exposure the paramedics are dealing with."

"Most of our cases were coming from exposure between each of them. It wasn't really the exposure to any of the patients."

"They're really enjoying working in those bases. We're hoping it will show us whether our response times will increase. It's a good measure," Chief Kirkham said.