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Deputy Mayor: Disaster Relief Volunteers Will Engage in Outbreak Prevention Work After Receiving Training

Deputy Mayor Huang responding to press questions Taipei City Deputy Mayor Huang Shan-Shan briefed the media on the city’s outbreak prevention measures against COVID-19 on February 19. She announced that the city government will mobilize over 1,000 disaster relief volunteers that have received long-term training by the Fire Department. After 4 outbreak prevention-related courses and pre-service education at the end of the month, they will be engaging in community outbreak prevention work to alleviate the burden of the borough chiefs and secretaries.

According to Huang, health centers throughout Taipei City will also start selling masks on February 21. Since health centers do not offer medical care, they are not equipped with the necessary facilities to swipe NHI cards. However, the central government hopes that Taipei City can cooperate with the policy on selling masks, so the city government has recently installed the required equipment. If everything goes without a hitch, every health center will be able to sell masks every day.

Nevertheless, health centers in Beitou and Wenshan District will only be online at a later stage because they are not integrated with Taipei City Hospital’s outpatient system. Consequently, sales of masks by health centers in these two districts will be later than other districts, but the city government will make a public announcement to let citizens understand that the same regulations implemented on pharmacies will apply to health centers in regards to the number of masks sold and how they are sold.

The deputy mayor commented that the Fire Department, Department of Health (DOH), and Department of Civil Affairs have been informed, and the training and pre-service education of community disaster relief volunteers will be conducted. Disaster relief volunteers are able to assist in Taipei City’s outbreak prevention work and community health education campaign; once they are mobilized, the burden of borough secretaries and chiefs will be alleviated.

When a journalist asked when the program will be launched, Huang replied that 4 training sessions will be carried out before the end of the month, and DOH Commissioner Huang Shier-Chieg added that it is because the disaster relief volunteers were trained to deal with other types of disasters, but the COVID-19 outbreak is an unconventional disaster.

Another journalist asked what type of certificate the city government-trained disaster relief volunteers receive, Huang responded by saying that it is a certificate of completion issued by the Taipei City Fire Department upon the completion of training. Taipei City has launched the community disaster relief program for a number of years, consisting of mostly community residents and sub-district chiefs. Over 1,000 disaster relief volunteers were trained to partake in community disaster prevention work in response to extreme weather. It is hoped that more people will join the program because if we take a look at the Fire Department, many out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) patients nowadays are resuscitated by those who can perform CPR on-site. Therefore, the purpose is to put the disaster relief volunteers to good use in the communities to complement the manpower and equipment of the Fire Department, and the city government will reinforce their training in regard to outbreak prevention.