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FAWNA (NSW) INC – COVID-19 MEMBER UPDATE TO ITS VOLUNTEERS IN WILDLIFE RESCUE AND REHABILITATION
24/03/2020

FAWNA (NSW) INC – COVID-19 MEMBER UPDATE TO ITS VOLUNTEERS IN WILDLIFE RESCUE AND REHABILITATION
24/03/2020

Just before midday on Sunday 22 March FAWNA sent out a message to all trainees booked into the April, May and June training courses advising the courses had been postponed to a later date due to the increasing number of identified Covid-19 cases.

Your Management Team felt it could not control keeping people at the required distance apart from each other in a training situation. Some of our members are in the demographic that is more at risk and we have a duty of care that our FAWNA activities cause no harm to our volunteers or others.

All FAWNA volunteers must understand that their work for FAWNA is voluntary and every member has the choice whether or not to respond to a request from FAWNA to attend a wildlife rescue or pick up an animal from any premises.

The situation escalated afternoon/overnight (22 March 2020) with the announcement that NSW is encouraging social isolation to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

Many businesses where people congregate are forced to close and everyone is encouraged to take only essential trips away from home or approved workplace until mid-April for a start.

This link includes answers to many of the questions you might have about Covid-19.


COVID-19 – Frequently asked questions – Alerts

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/alerts/Pages/coronavirus-faqs.aspx


As wildlife rescuers and carers our work does not go away because we are recommended to socially isolate ourselves. It is entirely up to each individual FAWNA volunteer whether they accept a call to go out on a rescue, or to agree to accept an animal that someone might bring to their house for rehabilitation.

  • Keep your distance from others as much as possible is the recommendation, and there are ways and means of safely doing that and continuing in your rehabilitation work.
  • Heed the recommendations of keeping 1.5 – 2 metres separation between yourself and another person, and in an enclosed space you should allow 4 square metres per person in that room space.
  • If you knock on a door at a rescue, step away from the door and wait for the householder to answer. Explain that you wish to maintain separation of 2 metres for their household’s and your safety and ask if this is possible. If not, consider not continuing with the rescue.

To maintain separation might mean that a box or bag containing an animal should be placed on the ground by the person who has it, that person then stepping back to the required separation, then you picking up the box, preferably with gloved hands.

The same for a rescue – make sure that anyone observing the rescue remains >2 metres away from you and preferably further apart so you do not have to worry if you come into their personal space during the rescue.

Hygiene and lots of handwashing are important – before and after any animal handling, toilet visits and touching surfaces. You should be able to hum Happy Birthday twice while you wash your hands with soap and water – making sure to jiggle any rings you might be wearing up and down your fingers to ensure they are clean around and underneath. The recommendation is to use a clean towel or cloth each time to dry your hands.

Soap and water is more effective than antibacterial hand sanitizers which are suspected to have a rôle in the increase in antibiotic resistance. Sneezing or coughing into your crooked elbow, or into a tissue and safely discarding it, is an important way to limit spread of any virus or germs.

The hardest part is remembering and not thinking first of the animal and rushing in without fully preparing yourself with appropriate wraps, wipes, gloves and means of avoiding contamination from surfaces and people. We teach you in training to be prepared, have your gear ready, take stock, and take a deep breath while you plan how you are going to carry out your rescue – it is even more important now that you plan for this extra dimension – Covid-19.

What we do is an essential service and we must take all Work Health & Safety precautions to protect ourselves and others we come across. We know we are an essential service, but we must accept that Government probably will not be including wildlife rescue and rehabilitation as an essential service. We do dream that one day we will be accepted that way – and in the meantime Stay Safe all.

Your FAWNA Management Team
23 March 2020