Paramedics are on the front lines of health care and in Prescott-Russell, and they are taking measures to protect the public and themselves from COVID-19.

Director of Emergency Services Marc-André Périard said the department was preparing for the past two weeks and updated its pandemic plan.

Paramedics have been instructed to use proper equipment to protect themselves, and the need to wash hands and keep safe distances from other people.

Périard said the department is working with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) to meet with people in their homes if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and provide screening.

“People are panicking like we’ve never seen before,” he said.

Prescott-Russell paramedics have training sessions four times a year.  Those have been cancelled for the next month in order to make them more available for work.

All work terms for college paramedic students have also been temporarily canceled.

The Emergency Services Department has enough protective equipment for paramedics in its supplies right now, but Périard wants to be sure that there is a long-term supply.

He said the department is following the lead of whatever the EOHU and provincial authorities decide in the efforts against COVID-19.