30 per cent of Winnipeg firefighters could become exposed to COVID-19: Union president
WINNIPEG -- The president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeggers said upwards of 30 per cent of the firefighting force could be exposed to COVID-19 and will need to be quarantined.
“So what we’re doing, we’re preparing, we’re looking at the different computer programs about how we can keep response going,” said UFFW president Alex Forrest.
He said they have a lot of firefighters and firefighter-paramedics trained at a high level so the “capacity is a lot better than many other cities in Canada for being able to get high-quality medical care to the citizens of Winnipeg.”
Forrest noted firefighter-paramedics will be hit particularly hard by the spread of COVID-19.
“Because we are the first on the scene that is the most dangerous time for exposure,” he said.
Forrest said quarantines are also an issue.
“Firefighters do not want to take this home to their families, so we have to have a quarantine system that’s going to be able to protect the firefighters as well as the public.”
Forrest said he’s confident Winnipeg firefighters and paramedics will continue to provide high-quality care.
“I can tell you we have one of the best fire departments, fire-paramedic systems in all of Canada and if there’s a city that’s going to be able to handle this it’s going to be Winnipeg,” he said.
Forrest noted they’ve been meeting with health officials to get information about quarantines, what firefighter should do if they get sick, or is exposed to COVID-19.
“When we’re responding the last thing we want to do is put the public at risk because ourselves are a carrier.”
The first presumptive case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Manitoba on Thursday.
- With files from CTV’s Rachel Lagace.