RCMP in Old Crow, Yukon, have added an extra service during the COVID-19 pandemic — grocery delivery for community elders and those required to self-isolate.
The local Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation mandated a two-week self-isolation period for those returning to the community and Old Crow emergency management personnel met to discuss what it means for the town.
"At the time, teachers and others were coming back from March break and one of my concerns was how are they going to get groceries," says RCMP Cpl. Pat Russell, the detachment commander in Old Crow.
Old Crow, with a population of about 250 people, is Yukon's most northern town and the Co-Op is the fly-in community's only general store.
Russell spoke with the Co-Op manager about taking telephone orders that the RCMP could deliver.
"Our main focus with this is prevention and slowing down traffic at the store," says Russell. "It helps with protecting our elders who are at a higher risk."
Encouraging people to stay away from the town's only grocer helps ensure it can stay open. If there were to be a positive COVID-19 case and contact tracing determined the individual was at the store, it would need to be closed for deep cleaning.
The Co-Op takes telephone orders each day and one of Old Crow's three RCMP officers picks up the orders for delivery in the afternoon. Officers practise physical distancing during the drop-offs, placing supplies by the front door, knocking and stepping back as residents accept the delivery.
"People are pleasantly surprised it's being offered. They're calling to ask if it's true," says Kelli Howie, the Co-Op store manager.
The deliveries help police know who in the town is required to self-isolate, allowing officers to keep them in mind and check in on how they're doing.
"Cst. Mathieu Aubin and Cst. Nikki Perro have been doing the bulk of the deliveries and have been key to the program's success," says Russell.
Officers are also picking up elders' prescriptions at the post office for delivery.
The deliveries are only one way the RCMP is helping the community during the pandemic. Russell organized a tabletop exercise with local emergency management and essential personnel and Chief and Council to prepare for what would happen if the illness reaches the town.
"The RCMP and Cpl. Russell have been instrumental in pulling the community together for this and making sure all stakeholders are on the same page," says Howie.