Notice to the Members re Ebola Response of WFD

October 15, 2014

To: All Members of Local 867

From: Alex Forrest, President

We are currently working with the Administration and the Regional Health Authority on the issues and concerns that you have conveyed to us concerning the Ebola response protocols.

We did not have any briefing nor any chance for input into these policies and procedures before they were sent out to our members and as such we did not know the full rationale or reasons for some of the policies.

We have now met with the Administration and our Medical Director and we are working through our issues and concerns.

One of our concerns is that there is a belief within the health authority that we are not at risk.   They say that because of proper screening of 911 calls they will be able to alert us as to any possible dangers.   As Fire Fighters and Paramedics we know that we are often sent to calls for one reason only to show up and find out the information we were given is not correct and we have a whole different set of issues to deal with.   We also know that on many occasions, due to the ethnic diversity of Winnipeg, there are communications issues that result in misinformation being given to dispatch. This is but one of the issues that we have to deal with.

We are asking for quarantine procedures and such but up to now we have not been given any direction on this as they do not believe it will be needed for Firefighters and Fire Paramedics.  They think that our risk of exposure is small but we are attempting to educate on this issue.

One aspect to be clarified is the dispatch of the Ebola ambulance.  Upon notification of a possible Ebola patient the closest available fire unit will pick up the Ebola ambulance and drive it to the patient.  At that time the Fire Fighters will turn the ambulance over to the Ambulance Paramedics and they will transport the identified patient to the hospital. This will ensure that contact with the Ebola patient is limited to what is absolutely necessary.

Ebola is a very real possibility for Winnipeg.   The WHO (World Health Organization) has looked at computer diagnostics concerning Ebola and has issued the prediction that by the end of the year there will be ten thousand new Ebola cases per week with a mortality rate of seventy percent.

Your union is taking a proactive role to ensure that we will be supported and that everything will be done to ensure we are able to do our job without putting ourselves at any unnecessary risk.