4 December 2020

"We're only here to help": Safety message enforced as silly season begins

| Michael Weaver
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ACT Ambulance Service paramedic Sam Perillo.

ACT Ambulance Service paramedic Sam Perillo said the best in people outweighs the worst. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

ACT Ambulance Service paramedic Sam Perillo is used to seeing the best and worst of people as part of the frontline of the so-called ‘silly season’ which begins amid further easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Thankfully, we don’t see the worst of people too often,” he said. “It’s outweighed by seeing the best of people. Our staff are only out there to help you so don’t abuse us or be physically violent towards us.”

Given the year that’s been, Canberrans are being urged to help each other as the weather warms up and the festive season begins.

While discussing the summer safety message with ACT Policing’s Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan and ACT Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Vanessa Johnston, Mr Perillo said the message is one always worth repeating.

“We know there’s been a few hot days recently so we’re asking Canberrans to monitor themselves for the effects of heat, to dress sensibly, and avoid dehydrating drinks such as coffee and alcohol,” he said.

“Also, be mindful of vulnerable people in the community such as young children, elderly neighbours and people with chronic health conditions who can be affected by heat more than others.

“We are ready to deploy extra crews if need be, but we haven’t seen any spikes in demand yet.”

Sam Perillo, Dr Vanessa Johnston and Neil Gaughan in discussion.

Paramedic Sam Perillo, ACT Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Vanessa Johnston and Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan discussing the upcoming holiday season challenges. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Dr Johnston said the additional precaution of keeping COVID-19-safe is not diminished because of the easing of restrictions.

“While this summer will carry the same risks as previous years – such as extreme heat and the potential for impacted air quality – it will also be our first full summer and festive season with COVID-19,” said Dr Johnston.

“Consider hosting your Christmas party or other celebration outside, or if inside, increasing ventilation by opening doors and windows or using fans and cooling systems that bring in air from outside. It’s also important to make sure you regularly clean high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, switches and benches.

“If somewhere looks too busy, consider coming back another time. If you decide to stay, remember to physically distance from other groups whenever possible and practice all of your other COVID-19-safe behaviours such as washing your hands, maintaining good respiratory hygiene and staying home if you’re unwell. And don’t forget to use the Check-In CBR app wherever it’s available.”

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ACT Policing Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan said maintaining Canberra’s strong COVID-19 response is a priority for business owners and patrons.

“ACT Policing wants all Canberrans to enjoy their summer, but it will look different for many of us,” he said.

“Now is not the time for complacency. You must still check into restaurants and provide your correct details, which has been shown to be very effective in helping to manage outbreaks interstate.

“Businesses have had it tough this year so please be patient and follow staff directions. They’re doing their best to keep up with increased protocols so let’s spread the cheer and all keep safe.”

The most recent easing of social distancing restrictions means businesses that have registered with the Check-In CBR contact tracing app will be allowed one person per two square metres in their venues.

More than 2700 businesses across the ACT have registered for Check-In CBR, which has been downloaded more than 80,000 times since it was launched.

ACT Emergency Services Agency Chief Ambulance Officer Howard Wren said heat-related stress can even occur on normal summer days.

“Those most at risk include young children and babies, older people, pregnant women, people with a disability, and people who work or exercise outdoors,” he said.

“Symptoms of heat-related stress may include headaches, dizziness, faintness, nausea and vomiting.”

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