Winnipeg First Responders Preparing for Ebola Potential

Officials with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service are preparing for a possible Ebola case in the city.

Attempting to tame fears raised by the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg on Tuesday, WFPS acting assistant Chief Tom Wallace said Winnipeg was one of the first Canadian cities to begin planning for potential Ebola cases.

“I would like to reassure the public that the WFPS has been working closely with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority in the proactive development of processes for identifying potential cases of Ebola and the required safety equipment needed to safely transport suspected cases to health-care facility,” Wallace said. “WFPS first responders are currently receiving the required training and supplies needed to protect themselves in the line of duty as well as upholding public safety.”

Wallace said plans were already in the works in September. Earlier in the day, UFFW president Alex Forrest said firefighters and first responders are not prepared to handle the deadly disease if a case came up in Winnipeg.

Measures that the WFPS has already put in place include:

  • WFPS 911 communications will screen callers to identify those who may have Ebola Virus Disease symptoms. If the patient has a positive travel history and exhibits specific clinical criteria including a high fever, the incident will be flagged for response by predetermined paramedic resources using a specific ambulance.
  • WFPS Medical Supervisors are currently engaged in training all paramedics on the proper use of specific personal protection equipment that will be provided by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
  • Plans are in place to provide on-shift training in the near future related to the protective equipment needed by firefighter primary care paramedics.