Many contracted and SHA-operated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) have offered to take on the additional role of providing peer-to-peer swabbing for COVID-19 tests in an effort to improve overall efficiency and lessen the burden on the public health system.
Paramedics performing peer-to-peer swabs provides the added benefit of getting results back faster, reducing the potential of an ambulance being taken out of service. The impact of taking an ambulance out of service is a potential risk to patients due to a delay in an ambulance arriving when they call 911, as well as a provider risk for a delay in getting the necessary COVID-19 swab and test results when needed.
Peer swabbing by EMS will also improve turn-around time for staff being away from work and reduce the burden on public health staff to test this group of health care workers. Swabbing capabilities have been included in addition to their daily work demands within the 911 response model. Similar to general COVID-19 testing within Saskatchewan, peer swabbing will be conducted as needed on both symptomatic and asymptomatic paramedics.
Nearly 500 paramedics in 86 ambulance services in Saskatchewan are trained to do COVID-19 swabbing. The additional training was approved by the Saskatchewan College of Paramedics. In addition, many paramedics have taken the Transportation of Dangerous Goods course and with these services having acquired the appropriate laboratory licenses, they are positioned in close proximity to either an SHA lab or a COVID-19 testing site where swabs can easily be transported for testing.
Paramedics perform peer-to-peer swabbing.