Renfrew Paramedics discover non-medical masks used for about a week during pandemic

The Renfrew Paramedic Service has discovered paramedics have been using non-medical grade masks while on the job during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The masks were in use by paramedics for about a week at the end of May. A member of the paramedic service noticed the error when they saw the box the masks were stored in said “non-medical.”

The incorrect masks were only put in use as back-ups because the surgical grade masks paramedics had been using kept breaking where the ear band connected to the mask.

Through contact tracing, six members of the public needed further COVID-19 testing along with the paramedics. Renfrew Paramedic Chief Mike Nolan says no new cases of COVID-19 were detected because of using the wrong masks.

Nolan says the error occurred through the Renfrew Paramedic Service’s logistics chain, which has been ordering masks from multiple suppliers due to the low amount available.

“We’ve been able to source them back to safety supply organizations where when we look at the waybill, we ordered procedural medical masks and what we received was different when you look at the box. we’ve also ordered from the province and other hospitals.”

In a statement, the province confirms the masks were not provided by the Ministry of Health.

The non-medical masks have since been taken out of circulation.

Nolan says, “We have new ones that say medical on the box, that we’re working with public health and the province to ensure they are appropriate.”

Nolan adds every paramedic does have a certified N95 mask, but due to the short supply, only wear them in extreme circumstances now.

Renfrew paramedics discovered they were using non-medical masks for about a week. They started using them by accident b/c the masks they were using (right) kept breaking. Paramedics do carry N95’s (left) but only use them in extreme circumstances due to the low supply #ottnews pic.twitter.com/pPhnOFOmPb

— Dylan Dyson (@DylanDyson) June 11, 2020