Fire department providing emergency support to Saskatoon Correctional Centre

Firefighters and primary care paramedics have been called in to provide emergency support at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre (SCC), the site of a coronavirus outbreak.

Saskatoon fire Chief Morgan Hackl said they will assist medical staff at the facility with wellness checks.

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“This will include taking vital signs and in certain cases — when requested — conduct nasal swabs for COVID-19 testing,” Hackl said Friday in a statement.

An outbreak was declared at the SCC on Nov. 17. Nearly 160 inmates and more than 50 staff have tested positive for COVID-19. As of Dec. 15, there were 67 active cases among offenders and 19 among staff.

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Hackl said they received a request this week from correctional centre staff asking for support as measures were taken at the facility to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

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“I want to stress that our primary care paramedics and firefighters have a high level of training to do this job, including recent training in nasal swab testing,” he said.

“The health and safety of our firefighters as well as their patients is our top priority.”

Staff will only work at the correctional centre on days off, Hackl said.

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“We’ve looked at this carefully and determined that our primary care paramedics working at the correctional centre will be at no more risk than if they were working out of fire stations in a normal environment,” Hackl said.

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“In fact, our staff could be at lower risk due to the controlled environment at the correctional centre.”

Hackl said work at the facility will be on a cost-recovery basis through the Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety.

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