Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service adapts vital employee training during COVID-19 pandemic

More than 150 policy and protocol changes adapted between January and June

WFPS employees with COVID masks standing in front of emergency vehicles

For members of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS), training is a regular part of each shift. Patient and crew safety is the WFPS’ top priority, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, crews have adapted to more than 150 policy and protocol changes between January and June.

The WFPS training academy acted quickly at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure training would still meet its high standards, even with physical distancing guidelines in place.

“In an emergency service, you can’t stop or postpone training during a pandemic,” said Deputy Chief of Professional Development, Russ Drohomereski.

“In fact, like in other essential services, additional training is needed to keep responders and residents safe.”

Drohomereski added the training helps prevent workplace exposures to COVID-19. He is proud of the hard work of staff who are adapting to changing protocol and to the efforts of the training and safety staff who have been working tirelessly.

As requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE) evolved, so did the training for how and when to use it. To make sure every WFPS member received proper refresher training on PPE, the paramedic training team visited every WFPS station and held training sessions in small, physically-distanced groups to review the procedures, training more than 1,200 employees in a few weeks.

Training was completed in person at a safe distance to ensure proper demonstration of techniques, answer important questions, and to provide an opportunity for responders to practice donning and doffing PPE under supervision.

“As soon as the new PPE protocols came out, members of the training team immediately headed out to make sure frontline staff had the appropriate training, much of which was accomplished between calls for service and on evenings and weekends,” said Drohomereski.

At the same time, training staff quickly shifted part of the Fire Officer training to an online platform to limit the time spent in-classroom to only what was absolutely-required. In-classroom training was adjusted to limit numbers of participants and ensure adequate physical distancing measures.

“Fire Officers are the incident commanders at fire and rescue scenes, and they are responsible for the safety of all crews and residents involved while leading the response to the emergency,” said Drohomereski.

Crews completed tabletop exercises online using remote video sharing technology. These scenarios are set up for Fire Officers practice their incident commander skills and learn from one another. 

In addition to the training adjustments, the WFPS safety team created online training videos about proper cleaning and disinfection to share with frontline staff.

“We’ve had positive feedback from our frontline staff about the training they received during the pandemic. This would not have been possible without the hard work and quick thinking of our training staff,” said Drohomereski.

Celebrating City employees COVID-19 Emergency and safety

Was this information helpful?

How can we make this web page better?

Information collected will be used to improve our website. Do not use this form to submit a request for service or information because it will not be forwarded to departments for response. To submit a request for service or information, contact 311.

This form is not intended to collect personal information; however, any personal information you choose to include in your comments is collected by the City of Winnipeg under the authority of section 36(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the purpose of improving our website and will not be used or disclosed for any other purposes, except as authorized by law. Contact the Corporate Access and Privacy Officer by mail (City Clerk’s Department, Susan A. Thompson Building, 510 Main Street, Winnipeg MB, R3B 1B9) or by telephone (311) if you have any questions about the collection of this information.