Fire departments in the province will now only be responding to medical calls when necessary in a preventative effort to keep COVID-19 from spreading.

What this means is instead of answering a medical call alongside emergency medical technicians (EMTs), they will respond if there is no ambulance in the area, or if there’s a serious call for an issue such as cardiac arrest, or a lift assist.

“We’re still going to answer fire calls, car accidents, any other calls as normal, it’s just the medical side where we withdrew a little bit,” said Shannon Dumville, chief of the Alberton Volunteer Fire Department.

Mr Dumville said there are a couple of members from the department who are currently in self-isolation because they recently came home after spring vacation, but they’re observing quarantine rules and will not be responding to calls at this time.

Allan Gavin, fire chief for Tignish, said his department is also doing what it can to prevent COVID-19 from spreading if it reaches West Prince.

“We are no longer having our training nights, meeting as a group, everything has been cancelled until further notice,” he said. “We’re just more or less doing what we can to prevent it from ever happening, but if it ever does happen, that’s a different thing because you’re looking at a number of people that if they do get infected, hopefully the don’t pass it on to everyone.”

Mr Gavin said members of the department are just as concerned about the virus, noting that because fire crews are exposed to a lot of things, their risk for coming in contact with someone who could have the virus is greater. He said the department has rubber gloves and cleaning items at the fire hall in order to limit the spread of germs.

While keeping fire halls clean is a good preventative measure, keeping the proper social distance of two meters can be difficult. Fire trucks are large, but crew members are still in close proximity to each other.

“We’re pretty lucky (in rural areas),” explained Tyne Valley Fire Chief William Bishop. “You probably only have three or four in the truck. You can only have two in the front cab and two in the back, so your distance is not too bad. You try to keep your two meters as much as you can.”

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