Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment is the last line of defence and is necessary for the health and safety of firefighters.
Firefighters have the right to don the maximum PPE available for every medical response call, regardless of the Covid-19 status of the patient or those with the patient.
While Covid-19 statistics show there is currently a very low risk of exposure to Covid-19 patients, firefighters are entitled to take every precaution and don the Covid-19 PPE of coveralls, googles, masks and gloves for all medical calls.
Limited or no information of whether the patient has exhibited Covid-19 symptoms has caused concern for responding firefighters. Some responding crews have reported they are receiving little information on the patient’s Covid-19 symptoms or status prior to arrival on the scene. Some crews have reported they are not informed whether questions about the patient’s Covid-19 status or symptoms have been asked prior to their arrival, or what the responses were.
Ambulance and FENZ have confirmed that the status of the patient including any flu-like symptoms is still being requested, but depending on the nature of the call and timing of the crew’s arrival, that information may not be passed on prior to the crew’s arrival. If the answers are that there have been no prior Covid-19 symptoms or known exposures, then that information is not necessarily being passed onto the responding crew. The NZPFU is following up those issues with FENZ.
Crews are required to ask the flu-like and Covid-19 questions upon arrival at a 2-metre distance where practicable to do so.
If the information is not available, or satisfactory information cannot be obtained at the incident, then crews are advised to take all precautions donning the full Covid-19 Medical Response PPE.
Even if information is available and it is reported that the patient has not exhibited flu-like symptoms and no known exposures to Colvid-19, the responding firefighters are still entitled to wear the full Covid-19 Medical Response PPE.