BC Emergency Health Services has deployed the Major Incident Response Team (MIRRT) as COVID-19 positive cases rise in the Williams Lake region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

BC Emergency Health Services has deployed the Major Incident Response Team (MIRRT) as COVID-19 positive cases rise in the Williams Lake region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

B.C.’s rapid response paramedics deployed to Williams Lake as COVID-19 cases climb

BC Emergency Health Services has sent a Major Incident Rapid Response Team to the lakecity

For only the second time since the start of the pandemic, BC Emergency Health Services has deployed its COVID-19 rapid response team to a northern B.C. city.

This time the specialized team is heading to Williams Lake where there are high levels of COVID-19 patients in multiple clusters in the region, as well as an outbreak at the hospital responsible for treating them.

The primary role of the team is to assist in the inner-facility transfer of COVID-19 patients and to support local paramedics with pre-hospital responses. The secondary role of the team is to provide clinical site support at Cariboo Memorial Hospital when requested by the Interior Health Authority or local health professionals.

Interior Health has also implemented a second High Acuity Response Team based out of the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops over the next 10 days to support high acuity transfers in the area.

On Sunday night (Jan. 17), Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb confirmed the rapid response team is expected in the lakecity this week. He conceded the fact that his city is in need of such a team is ‘a little worrisome.’

Cobb has been trying to push the government for more information on the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the city as leaders in outlying First Nations communities have taken a lead role in keeping their community members informed on exact case numbers.

READ MORE: Williams Lake First Nation Chief highlights importance of mental health amid COVID-19 outbreak

With that information, chiefs and their teams have put supports in place for those hardest hit west and south of Williams Lake.

Health officials have been scrambling to provide vaccines for the communities, with Tsq’escenemc (Canim Lake Band), Williams Lake First Nation and Esk’etemc First Nation experiencing an outbreak and clusters.

READ MORE: COVID-19 cluster identified at Esk’etemc First Nation at Alkali Lake

READ MORE: COVID-19 vaccine rolled out to Canim Lake Band, as positive case numbers rise to 52

As a regional hub for the many of the COVID-19-stricken communities, Cobb said the city needs more information.

“We just aren’t getting reliable information and it’s not consistent,” Cobb said, comparing it to a similar problem felt during the 2017 wildfires.

On Saturday, the city increased its Emergency Operations Centre response to a Level 2, which allows better coordination with Interior Health and more staffing to support residents. Cobb hopes the move will create a better flow of information such as a timely count of COVID-19 cases and the number of COVID-19 patients in local hospital.

READ MORE: Climbing COVID-19 cases prompts City of Williams Lake to increase response level

The last public information shared by Interior Health Friday, Jan. 15, on the hospital outbreak noted there were six active cases of COVID-19 among the staff at Cariboo Memorial Hospital. Cobb said he understands that number is now 12 and that vaccines are expected Monday for health care workers at the hospital.

“They should have come first, there’s no doubt in my mind. They are the ones who have to take care of us. It’s crazy that we didn’t take care of our own health care workers,” Cobb said of hospital staff not being vaccinated sooner.

As the cases rise in the region, so do the number of exposures in district schools where there are currently several confirmed COVID-19 exposures.

School District 27 superintendent Chris van der Mark said those cases in the schools are a reflection of what’s happening in the community.

van der Mark said schools in the hardest hit, First Nations communities remain open to support their families in any way they can, though many are in varying states of lockdown.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusWilliams Lake

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Civil works crews have begun to install roads and other infrastructure to service the Nigel Valley redevelopment project that will bring nearly 800 new housing units to Saanich over the next several years. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Prep work begins on massive Nigel Valley development in Saanich

Construction of first two developments expected to begin fall 2021, B.C. Housing says

Camosun Cares hampers will be delivered weekly to students for a period of nine weeks. (Photo courtesy of Camosun College)
Weekly care hampers offered to Camosun College students in need

The Camosun Cares hamper delivers fresh produce, prepared meals, hygiene products and even recipes

Victoria police are looking for 45-year-old Charlene Woods. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Missing woman last seen in Victoria on New Year’s Day

Police working to locate Charlene Woods, 45

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Maureen Garry is the Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Educator of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Former teacher at David Cameron Elementary a tireless advocate for musical education

Maureen Garry is West Shore’s 2021 Educator of the Year

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 vaccination set to start for B.C. seniors aged 80-plus

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Police have identified the vehicle involved in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run in Chemainus and are continuing to investigate. (Black Press Media files)
Police seize and identify suspect vehicle in hit-and-run

Investigation into death expected to be lengthy and involved

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

This poster, spreading misinformation regarding COVID-19 restrictions, has been popping up in communities across Vancouver Island.
UPDATED: Poster popping up in Island communities falsely claiming COVID restrictions are over

Unattributed poster claims COVID restrictions ended March 1; Island Health responds

(Pxhere)
Compensation fund opens for B.C. students negatively affected by incorrect exam marks

Marks for 2019 provincial exams were incorrectly tabulated

The humanoid sensing robot has a 3D printed finger cap that measures oxygen levels. (Dr. Woo Soo Kim)
Medical care robots being made with 3D origami in B.C. lab

Would you let a robot take your temperature?

Most Read