COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way we live and work worldwide – and the RCMP Academy is no exception. Since June 2020, training officially resumed at the RCMP Academy after a three month shut down in March 2020. An essential element of Depot's plan has been a phased-in approach with robust COVID-19 protocols. In order to strengthen these precautions, Depot proposed rapid testing.
In collaboration with the Health Canada and the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Depot Division's Training Continuation Team implemented a Rapid COVID-19 testing pilot project.
Depot's Rapid Testing Pilot Project officially launched on April 6, 2021, and just like the resumption of training, it has been phased in. Phase 1 Rapid Testing began with the voluntary testing of asymptomatic persons including new cadet arrivals, employees from designated units and cadets that leave base.
On the recommendation of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, the Depot Rapid Testing Site utilizes nasal swabs instead of the nasopharyngeal swabs included in the test kits. Nasal swabs are less invasive, easier to train on, and do not require a lab licence. Currently, the site is staffed with two nurses and one pharmacist. Since the start of the project, over 400 tests have been performed.
Given the success of the pilot project to date, Depot has now moved into Phase 2 of the pilot project, which means rapid testing has expanded to more units on base.
Rapid testing does not eliminate the need for testing conducted by the Saskatchewan Health Authority. It is intended to be a risk mitigation tool for unrecognized COVID-19 cases of employees and cadets who are asymptomatic. These additional measures add another layer to best practices Depot has implemented over the last year to maintain a safe learning and working environment during a pandemic.
Since the resumption of training, Depot has graduated 18 troops, or approximately 500 cadets. The RCMP Academy has an important job to do ensuring there are trained, capable professionals in line to continue providing frontline policing in Canada to keep our communities safe.
The health and safety of cadets and employees is paramount. The Depot Rapid Testing Site adds another layer in the mitigation strategy to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the Cadet Training Program continues to thrive.
Navigating through the ever-changing parameters of this pandemic has been a challenge for everyone. We are very cognizant and appreciative of the tremendous assistance and cooperation we have been afforded by Health Canada and the Saskatchewan Health Authority. The continued collaboration with our partners is vital to ensuring our training facility is as safe as possible.