COVID-19 has changed how everyone does their job, including the 100 Mile House RCMP Detachment.
Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen said that within the RCMP itself they’ve had a pretty good plan on how to deal with this from the get-go from how to deal with a possible symptomatic and asymptomatic carrier to how best to deal with isolation in the detachment. While it’s admittedly been a work in progress, he thinks that overall it’s been pretty successful thus far.
Nielsen said that, like most emergency responders, their focus has been on wearing proper personal protection equipment and making use of safe practices as far as hand washing, cleaning their office and maintaining social distancing in their office.
When responding to calls officers are now wearing PPE more frequently he said be they masks, gloves, safety glasses or other forms of PPE. While it varies, Nielsen says that most officers you’ll see on the road will now be wearing the P95 or P100 masks that the detachment uses.
“We try to set a good example in the community in regards to maintaining that because obviously we’re very public figures and when we’re working it’s something people notice. If we’re walking around or working with those items in place we tend to lead towards the government messaging and the health agencies information about COVID in regards to how we should handle ourselves,” Nielsen said.
Much like the rest of society, Nielsen said the greatest challenge for his officers has been finding ways to deal with something you can’t see and don’t want to touch. Initially, he feels it was a bit overwhelming to determine what you’re going to do in certain circumstances. From avoiding taking it home to how to act after dealing with a presumptive case, Nielsen and his team have had many of the same anxieties as other front line workers like grocers, nurses and doctors.
For him personally the challenge has been how to make the environment in the office safer for his staff, which has been a big portion of his days. The station’s cell facilities have been fairly easy to clean thus far, due to the number of metal surfaces, and Nielsen said they’re fortunate to have a custodian on staff trained in WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) to keep the station clean.
As far as enforcing social distancing rules, Nielsen said the RCMP has maintained its position of supporting the public health authority in that respect. They have assisted with certain calls in the community regarding complaints from the public in regards to social distancing.
Nielsen said they’ve been proactive by going out to speak to people and make them more aware of the restrictions in place. For the most part, whenever they’ve had to talk to large gatherings, he said they’ve simply outlined the public health authorities guidelines and people have been accommodating and co-operative.
“I would say 99 per cent of the people we’ve had to speak to have been co-operative. Of course, it’s difficult, people want to be social, they want to be together. We’re all experiencing that because we’re all human beings so it’s a challenge,” Nielsen said.
In his neighbourhood he sees people getting together in the evening, having a glass of wine at the end of their driveway, with their neighbours but maintaining social distancing. When Nielsen sees this he likes to give a thumbs up on the way by as it’s good to see people adapting and changing to these trying times.
Nielsen wants the public to know that 100 Mile House RCMP are still here and still doing their jobs to the best of their abilities during this time and that they appreciate the support of the public. They intend to continue to support both the community and the health authority going forward until this pandemic has been resolved.