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‘We can do that’: How the Rapid Response Team stepped up to support the COVID-19 response throughout the province

The BCCDC’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Team can do attitude allowed them to been support health authorities with the COVID-19 response with whatever was needed.
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​The Rapid Response Tea​m travelled to Prince Rupert to support COVID-19 vaccine clinics

​​​​​When Northern Health and First Nations Health Authority reached out to BCCDC to say they would need some help to vaccinate 12,000 residents of Prince Rupert and Port Edward over a few short weeks to drive down high rates of infection, the answer was a simple “we can do that.”

From mink farm outbreaks to temporary foreign workers arriving in B.C to COVID-19 test results to case and contact tracing to immunization clinics as local as the Downtown Eastside and as far north as Fort Nelson, there are few parts of the province and COVID-19 response that the BCCDC COVID-19 Rapid Response Team hasn’t supported. For this, they have been reco​gnized as a 2021 PHSA + Award recipient (an internal award program).

“This team has provided flexible and responsive support to local public health teams to manage the COVID-19 pandemic in British Columbia,” said Dr. Réka Gustafson, vice president Public Health & Wellness for PHSA. “I am so proud of their work. Congratulations to the team on the PHSA+ Award!”

What started in February 2020 as two BCCDC nurses following up with patients to provide negative COVID-19 test has grown into a team of over 250, based at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The team includes nurses, contact tracing assistants, administrative and operations professionals. Some team members have years of experience and some are completely new to their roles, however, all of them were motivated to help with the COVID-19 response.

 “What’s impressed me throughout the pandemic is how quickly everyone will work together to solve problems and support British Columbians,” said Jillian Arkles, Rapid Response Team manager. “This is tough, relentless work but despite the challenges, they’ve been dedicated to their work and to the people they work with and for.”
The COVID-19 Rapid Response Team has supported public health teams in the health authorities with whatever was needed. The focus of their work has been and continues to be providing COVID-19 test results by text and over the phone, contact tracing, and testing. Whenever health authorities call upon the team, the COVID-19 Rapid Response quickly mobilizes to make it happen for citizens across B.C. As the province moved from pandemic control to immunizations, the team’s flexibility and agility allowed them to lend a hand there too. 

“Every result conveyed, every call made, every vaccine provided and the enormous amount of work behind the scenes to make all of this happen has been incredible to be a part of and witness,” said Bobbi Brownrigg, director of operations for the COVID-19 Rapid Response Team. 

The Rapid Response Team by the numbers

  • 250+ staff are part of a team that didn’t exist before COVID-19
  • 146,000+ test results given by phone
  • 999,000+ test results given by text
  • 30 trips deployed staff to vaccination clinics in communities throughout the province. Staff also supported local clinics in the lower mainland
  • 1,315+ temporary foreign workers supported through their self-isolation upon arrival in Canada
  • Provided support to all five regional health authorities and First Nations Health Authority

Learn more about the team’s work


About the PHSA+ Awards program

The PHSA+ Awards are part of an internal recognition program that celebrates teams and individuals who bring our PHSA values to life in the workplace. They go above and beyond to serve patients and families across B.C. Read about the other PHSA+ award recipients for 2021.

SOURCE: ‘We can do that’: How the Rapid Response Team stepped up to support the COVID-19 response throughout the province ( )
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