In a dangerous and scary time, increased safety measures have been put in place for Ontario first responders. The province has passed another emergency order this time allowing response personnel to ask if an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 before they respond to the scene. The change comes after a Peel paramedic caught the virus at the scene of a car crash.
Ontario announced the extended action on Monday, April 6 in a statement by the provincial government of Ontario, Minister of Health Christine Elliott, and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.
It confirmed an emergency order has been placed allowing firefighters, paramedics and police officers to get potentially vital COVID-19 information from those who they come in contact with.
"First responders put their lives on the line every day to protect Ontarians and they are at great risk of being directly exposed to COVID-19 as they fulfill their frontline duties," reads the statement.
"We must do everything in our power to ensure the health and well-being of those working on the frontlines and provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs and keep Ontarians safe."
According to the statement, it is essential for these responders to know what they are walking into in order to help stop the spread of the virus.
Ontario's first responders are putting their lives on the line while performing critical jobs keeping us and our co… https://t.co/QodPPmtxQw— Sylvia Jones (@Sylvia Jones)1586198665.0
The information they will ask for includes the name, address, and date of birth of the relevant person, as well as whether they have tested positive for COVID-19.
However, one thing that is not clear at the outset is what would happen in situations when a resident reporting an emergency cannot confirm this information immediately.
Narcity has reached out to the Ontario government in an attempt to clarify this.
While the release makes no mention of any specific incidents, it seems likely this emergency act was at least partly affected by something that happened recently in the Peel region of the GTA.
According to CP24, a Peel paramedic tested positive for the virus after being exposed to it while responding to a car crash.
Peel Public Health said the individual and their partner at the scene were exposed. Only one contracted the virus but for preventative measures, both personnel are currently in isolation.
For what it's worth, Ontario stresses that this information will be guarded closely.
"Strict protocols will be enforced to limit access to this information and will only be used to allow first responders to take appropriate safety precautions to protect themselves and the communities they serve," reads the statement.
This order will be lifted once the state of emergency in the province is lifted.