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

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Fisheries and Oceans Canada released it's 2021 Pacific Herring Integrated Fisheries Management Plan Feb. 19. (File photo)
Northern herring opportunities kept to a minimum

2021 management plan caps Prince Rupert fishery at 5 per cent

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The first of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance air craft is capable of staying aloft for eight to 10 hours for a variety of missions up and down the B.C. coast. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
New plane will double DFO’s surveillance capacity in B.C.

The Dash-8 will fly out of Campbell River for enforcement, conservation missions

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

Most Read