News

Ambulance Victoria urges communities to exercise social distancing

By Simon Ruppert

People power is the greatest weapon to help stop the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus — and paramedics need your help.

Ambulance Victoria is calling on the community to help save lives through five simple steps.

Ambulance Victoria Hume regional director Matt Chadban said everyone in the community could make a vital difference by:

● Washing their hands;
● Coughing/sneezing into their elbow;
● Not touching their face;
● Staying at least 1.5 meters away from others;
● Staying home (if feeling sick, or are able to work from home).

“Washing your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds and keeping a safe distance from others when out in public might be a little hard to get used to, but they are important measures we can all take,” Mr Chadban said.

“Stay at home and avoid all unnecessary travel.

“If you have to leave the house, make sure you are 1.5 metres, or two arms’ length away from others at all times. The evidence globally from countries ahead of us in the coronavirus pandemic is clear: the only weapon that will slow the rate of infection and ensure our public health system can cope, is social distancing.”

Mr Chadban said it was crucial parents talked openly with their children about COVID-19.

“While they may not fully grasp the situation, many kids will worry if they are kept in the dark. Parents should use words and language that are appropriate for their age and, most importantly, reassure children that we’re doing everything we can to keep them happy and healthy,” he said.

“Children also need to understand there are things they can do themselves to minimise the impact of the pandemic, such as washing their hands carefully and regularly.

“Only ringing triple zero (000) when it’s an emergency will also mean that ambulances are available for those who really need it.”

Mr Chadban has reassured the community that Ambulance Victoria has been planning and preparing for the impact of COVID-19 for months and is in constant contact with medical experts, agencies and clinicians.

“It is a co-ordinated whole-of-sector response to ensure the healthcare system is well placed to meet this challenge,” he said.

“There’s no need to panic when community members see paramedics taking extra precautions.

“You may see paramedics wearing white suits or gowns, and gloves, masks and goggles. This is a precautionary measure and does not mean the patient has COVID-19.

“This is our standard procedure for all infectious diseases and it means our paramedics are doing the right thing and ensuring the community and our people remain safe.”

Victorian Ambulance Union secretary Danny Hill said people could thank paramedics for their work by simply staying home.

“Paramedics are out on the road saving lives every day,” he said.

“Now all Victorians have the chance to be a lifesaver by sitting down at home and putting their feet up.”

Anyone who thinks they have COVID-19 should contact the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398. Anyone else with a health concern should call Nurse on Call on 1300 60 60 24. If in doubt, visit the DHHS coronavirus website at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus