Fire halls closed to the public as safety measure

RCMP detachment remains open to the public for now

Red Deer’s fire halls have been closed to the public as a health precaution, but the RCMP detachment remains open for now.

Signs have been posted on the doors of fire halls alerting residents to the change.

“We’re trying to limit those public access points to ensure the well-being of those essential service providers,” said City of Red Deer spokesperson Tara Shand on Tuesday.

Red Deer County also announced on Tuesday afternoon that all of its protective services stations are closed to the public.

While Red Deer’s downtown RCMP detachment is open to the public, that may not last.

“I do expect closures at those types of facilities,” said Shand. “We are encouraging people not to come downtown to the detachment.

“We’re working on processes and procedures to shift work online where possible.”

The RCMP is a contracted service, so its response to the virus will largely be directed from its national and divisional headquarters.

“However, we certainly are working in partnership with them to align all of those decisions that being made with COVID-19 across the board,” said Shaw.

The RCMP’s Ottawa headquarters sent out word several days ago that the national police force was working with other government entities, such as the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada and Public Safety Canada to “ensure a co-ordinated response” to the highly contagious virus.

“The RCMP has national and divisional emergency operations plans related to health emergencies, as well as business continuity plans. These will be activated if and when required,” says the RCMP.

Frontline personnel have been given information on what precautions to take when interacting with individuals at greater risk and what to do if they come in contact with someone who is suspected to be infected.

When and where to use personal protective equipment has also been outlined to officers.

Shand said cleaning with disinfectants has been stepped up at the RCMP detachment and at fire halls. Vehicles and equipment are also getting extra cleaning.

Residents are unlikely to see police officers and fire-medics going about their jobs with face masks on.

“I don’t anticipate that’s going to be the case,” said Shand. “The need for things like masks is being assessed on a case-by-case basis.”

When responding to calls, fire-medics will determine if a mask is prudent for their patient or themselves.

A national police organization said its members had expressed concerns about shortages of gloves, approved face masks and disinfectants.

Other concerns are related to decontamination supplies and what to do about treating clothing, vehicles, offices and cell areas, says a news release from the National Police Federation.

The organization representing 20,000 RCMP officers across Canada says it is working with the RCMP’s senior management to ensure members’ concerns are being taken seriously.

Meanwhile, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples has called on Corrections Canada to take steps to reduce the chances of COVID-19 spreading through the prison population.

“A pandemic in federal and provincial prisons would have devastating repercussions to the health and the lives of prisoners and staff, in particular, Indigenous inmates who are over-represented and isolated from their families and support networks,” says Kim Beaudin, congress national vice-chief.

The congress supports recommendations of the John Howard Society to release non-violent, youth and elderly inmates with pre-existing conditions to reduce prison populations.

Correctional Service Canada has stopped all visits to prisons by the public. Telephone or video contact is available.

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