The requirement is a result of the research project Falck launched in the spring to investigate the spread of COVID-19 infection among its employees. The research project runs until year’s end and examines the spread of infection among more than 4,000 of the company's employees in Denmark and Sweden.
In a scientific article, Falck has presented the preliminary results and made the data material available to other researchers. The results show that paramedics, rescuers and healthcare professionals have an increased risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, and that the number of patient and user interactions is crucial to how often staff become infected.
In Sweden and Denmark, 9% and 4% of employees, respectively, have been infected with COVID-19. This corresponds to the level among other health professionals and is somewhat above the general infection rates in the two countries.
Country guidelines differ - new requirement will ensure safety in Falck’s working environment globally
President and CEO Jakob Riis:
“We are an integral part of the healthcare systems in Europe, the US and Colombia. We follow the guidelines of the authorities, but in the last six months we have seen that the guidelines can be quite different from country to country. We trust the authorities of the countries in which we operate. At the same time, we have an obligation to ensure a safe working environment for all our employees. That is why we are now introducing obligatory face masks in all markets – including markets where they are not locally required.”
“It is not surprising that there is a correlation between infection rates and the number of interactions with patients and clients. But gaining solid research-based knowledge has been crucial for Falck. With this knowledge, we can now implement additional measures to create a safer working environment for those employees who interact with patients and people in need every day.”
Falck employees keep patients safe - patients must now keep Falck employees safe by using face masks
In Denmark and several other countries, the requirement for both the healthcare staff from Falck and patients to wear face masks is new. This is due to the indication that face masks primarily prevent the wearer from infecting others. Thus, both healthcare professionals and patients must wear face masks to protect each other.
Professor Henrik Ullum, Department of Clinical Medicine at the University of Copenhagen, is a partner in Falck's research project, which is supported by the Lundbeck Foundation. On the introduction of masks for both Falck employees, patients and users, he says:
“The data from Falck are clear and similar to what we see in hospitals: The more patients you are exposed to, the higher the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. We have an obligation to take the best possible care of healthcare professionals, both for their own sake and for the benefit of patients. An obvious additional measure is to ask both staff and patients to wear masks. Everything today indicates that by wearing masks, we take care of each other.”
President and CEO Jakob Riis:
“Work environment and patient safety are both crucial for Falck. Today, an ambulance is a rolling treatment unit, designed for treatment over transport and with focus on patient safety when the ambulance is traveling from the scene of an accident to a hospital at high speed. It is a natural next step to ask our employees and patients to use masks, so patient safety is also ensured when dealing with the risks of the current pandemic,” says Jakob Riis.
Read more about Falck’s COVID-19 research project and our collaboration with professor Henrik Ullum and professor Kasper Karmark here.
The scientific article and data material can be found here
For more information, please contact Falck Global Communications +45 7022 0307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.