Outpouring of support for paramedic denied service in Vernon

Support for shunned medic

The story of a Vernon paramedic denied automotive service over coronavirus fears has stoked a fire of support.

Although it appears the paramedic has already had the work done, offers of discounted and even free work have flooded in.

Shannon Miller, communications spokesperson for BC Emergency Health Services says "BCEHS received a generous call from Mike and Lisa at Probyn Motors to offer the paramedic free service for the work that’s needed, and to extend a 10% discount to all paramedics who need service."

And Castanet's story prompted a flurry of discussion on social media, with local mechanics saying they'd be happy to do the work.

"Hell, I would have done the labour for free," said Carman Zieman, owner-operator of Canadian 4X4 Auto Repair and Treadpro Tire.

"We have all the precautions in place and are happy to service anyone’s automotive needs," added Steve Russell.

"Working in the automotive business, getting frontline workers to their jobs is the reason I have pride in what I do, especially during a pandemic," said Tom Talbot.

Larry Roy responded that he'd offer tires at cost plus tax for all first responders, paramedics and frontline personnel. "My way of saying thank you."

And even prior to the story, Vernon Dodge has been offering frontline workers priority appointments and 50% off labour.

Others were just angry.

"They should be bloody ashamed. What about the other foot? How would they feel if the paramedics just said, hey call someone else ... and pay me extra up front to get you to a hospital?" said Wendy Brunell.

"How un-Canadian! Not cool! These people are our first defence and should be treated with respect!" said Alana Eddington.

But not everyone was in agreement.

"You should be ashamed for judging someone on keeping themselves safe," said Melissa Neufeld, noting a business has the right to refuse service.

Back at BCEHS, Miller said the paramedic service has a well-established infection prevention and control plan.

"The safety of our patients is our priority, along with the safety of our paramedics," she said.

"Paramedics have always worn protective equipment for infectious calls and followed strict protocols around infection prevention. In early April, all paramedics in B.C. began wearing personal protective equipment in response to every medical emergency call. Their equipment includes N-95 masks, face shields and gloves. If a patient has influenza-like illness symptoms, paramedics will also don a long protective gown. This is a notable change in infection control practice to support our paramedics who don’t have the option of staying isolated, and protected, at home."

Key preventative measures – including mask, face shield, gown, and gloves – are all done ahead of any contact with a patient, or even entering their home.

"Once with a patient, paramedics will make an assessment. If the patient is showing specific symptoms of concern, we initiate reverse isolation, wherein we give the patient a surgical mask to help contain any spread."

Miller noted paramedics clean their hands before putting on personal protection equipment. Then repeat the cleaning process as they remove it, to prevent any cross-contamination.

"A comprehensive cleaning and disinfection procedure in undertaken following contact with a patient. We have a rigorous disinfection process for inside the ambulance, including deep cleaning equipment, and anything touched or brought into contact with a patient."

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