CALGARY -- First responders in Calgary — police, fire and paramedics — have added protective measures to their arsenals as they continue to respond to calls during the coronavirus pandemic.

Calgary Police Supt. Steve Barlow says crews have been instructed to ask extra screening questions before entering a residence or premises.

Calgary police has also been supplied with safety glasses, gloves and coveralls to wear if they'll be at risk of exposure to COVID19 during a call.

The police service says it has also suspended the use of mandatory alcohol screening measures, but members of the traffic section will continue to investigate drunk driving.

EMS have been supplied with personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes masks, shields, gloves and gowns.

Alberta Health Services says there is no shortage of PPE for paramedics.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) would respond to any supply issues.

“If we had a disruption in that PPE, (Chief) Tom (Sampson) would see that as a top priority," he said.

There are no considerations for shift changes or staffing levels, according to EMS chief paramedic Darren Sandbeck.

If any EMS staff experience symptoms, they are asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days as per provincial health guidelines, and the PPE is meant to protect them against contracting the virus.

Calgary firefighters are in discussions with City of Calgary officials about a possible change to 24-hour shifts.

No decision had been made as of Wednesday, said Nenshi.

There are 871 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, officials said Wednesday, which includes 527 in the Calgary Zone.


This story has been corrected to amend a statement that indicated the Calgary Police Service was suspending the use of breathalyzers when the agency was, in fact, only temporarily suspending the mandatory roadside testing protocol.