Significant Portion of Canby Fire Medical Calls in April Have Possible Link to Covid-19

Canby Fire District responded to an emergency medical call in which the novel coronavirus was either a confirmed or suspected factor approximately once per day in the month of April.

The local fire district is not tracking or reporting Covid-19 test results for patients they transport or otherwise come into contact with. Firefighters are donning full personal protective equipment for every single medical call they respond to — regardless of symptoms.

However, Canby Fire Division Chief Matt Dale, who is in charge of the district’s paramedic services, shared during a community update at Canby Foursquare Church Wednesday night that their 911 dispatch received 24 calls for patients with “symptoms that may be consistent with the Covid-19 virus” this month.

That represents more than a sixth of the total emergency medical calls (136) that the district responded to in April.

Division Chief Dale also reiterated that the fire district continues to notice people waiting too late to call 911 for medical emergencies, apparently out of fear of being exposed to the coronavirus in the ambulance, at the hospital or by EMTs.

“This waiting to call 911, in many cases, has worsened their condition,” Dale said. “Early recognition and treatment is always a priority when it comes to your health.”

Firefighter paramedics and EMTs provide advanced life support care while en route to the hospital, which can be the difference in saving the life of a patient suffering a cardiac episode.

Dale said Canby Fire has been delivering ambulance transport to the community for more than 70 years and has an average response time within the city of 5 minutes, 7 seconds.

“We urge you and anyone you know of experiencing a medical emergency to call 911,” Dale concluded. “Do not wait.”

Most cases of Covid-19 do not result in hospitalization, though the risk is higher for older demographics. The vast majority of those who contract the disease have mild symptoms or moderate symptoms — and some experience no symptoms at all.

The first — and so far, only — confirmed cases of Covid-19 within the city limits of Canby have been at Country Side Living, a long-term care facility specializing in residents with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. The facility has seen confirmed cases in at least six residents, including one death, and three employees.

Long-term care facilities are required to report confirmed or pending test results for the virus. Other results are being reported only at the county level — not city.

As of Thursday, Clackamas County has been linked to 214 of the state’s 2,510 cases, and seven deaths.

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