Critical care paramedic Tom and advanced care paramedic Laurence finish up a 14-hour work day after being deployed as part of a BC Emergency Health Services Rapid Response Team deployed to Fort St. James this week to help provide relief to local paramedics and health support workers due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases.. (BC Emergency Health Services photo)

Critical care paramedic Tom and advanced care paramedic Laurence finish up a 14-hour work day after being deployed as part of a BC Emergency Health Services Rapid Response Team deployed to Fort St. James this week to help provide relief to local paramedics and health support workers due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases.. (BC Emergency Health Services photo)

B.C.’s specialized COVID paramedics ‘impressed’ with Fort St. James’ community response

A BC Emergency Health Services team of paramedics deployed to Fort St. James this week to help deal with a surge in COVID-19 positive cases said it is impressed by how well the response has been handled in the community.

The Vancouver-based group of highly-trained paramedics, part of B.C.’s Rapid Response Team, were deployed on Wednesday, Dec. 9, on a four-day mission to the community of Fort St. James to support local paramedic staff on the front lines responding to extremely high call volumes — 33 calls in six days — a BC EHS spokesperson said.

At the time, a BC EHS spokesperson said the team was an ideal response to a region with 60-plus COVID-19 positive patients where there is only a small, acute care facility.

Fort St. James paramedics respond to and cover a community area that includes Fort St. James, the surrounding rural area and local First Nations communities with a total population of about 4,500 people.

On Thursday, Dec. 10 Northern Health confirmed the recent surge in lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the region, including approximately 40 active cases in its coverage area of First Nations and non-First Nations communities in the Omineca Region.

Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief Aileen Prince, whose First Nation is located adjacent to Fort St. James, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon announcing a minimum, two-week shutdown.

“This will help our community get this event under control and get the infection rate down,” Prince said.

“Our health care system is being stretched to the max … our workers are getting very tired. They are our community members, too, and we need to make sure they are OK.”

COVID announcement from Chief Prince December 9th, 2020

Posted by Nak'azdli Whut'en on Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Wednesday’s deployment was the first time the Rapid Response Team had been mobilizied. The team is made up of two critical care paramedics, one advanced care paramedic and a primary care paramedic.

READ MORE: B.C.’s rapid response paramedics arrive in Fort St. James as district reaches 60 COVID-19 cases

Northern Health said it is grateful for the BC EHS support, and is working with First Nations communities, the health authority, and other health care partners as they continue to respond to COVID-19 needs in the Northern Interior.

Since their arrival, the team has had two busy days of operations, including inter-facility transfers of patients from care facilities to hospitals, and supporting local crews, a BC EHS spokesperson said.

“The accommodations and facilities made available to our rapid response team in the community have been gracious,” BC EHS said.

“We’ve uncovered the incredible resilience and commitment of these employees to their community,” the team said in an e-mailed statement. “As we’re learning more about this we are learning how hard this crew has been working.”

Asked whether BC EHS will extend its deployment, a spokesperson said they are evaluating the situation in terms of resources needed, on a day-to-day basis.



greg.sabatino@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusNorthern Health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Nechako Figure Skating Club Canskate members Aubrie Sholer (from left), Renee Janzen, Alina Borno, Presley Stuckless, Sophia Reid and Layla Whittaker skate during a recent practice at the Vanderhoof Arena. (Photo submitted)
Nechako Figure Skating Club awarded local sport relief funds

“It will definitely help us recover from this and help us go on for another year.”

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

New three-storey seniors housing complex being builton the corner of Church Avenue and Victoria Street in Vanderhoof. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Housing availability a top priority for district: mayor

In Vanderhoof, 146 properties sold in 2020 worth $42.7 million

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

(Pixhere photo)
B.C. dentists argue for COVID-19 vaccine priority after ‘disappointing’ exclusion from plan

Vaccines are essential for dentists as patients cannot wear masks during treatment, argues BCDA

The fine for changing lanes or merging over a solid line costs drivers $109 and two penalty points in B.C. (Screenshot via Google Street View)
B.C. drivers caught crossing, merging over solid white lines face hefty fine

Ticket for $109, two penalty points issued under Motor Vehicle Act for crossing solid lines

Most Read