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Meet Royal Life Saving's Disease Detective

Over the past few weeks, Keeley Allen, Royal Life Saving’s Senior Project Officer for Research and Policy, has been volunteering her time to work as a contact tracer to track down people who have been exposed to coronavirus in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) to protect the wider community in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Since 21 March, Keeley has spent two to three days a week working with ACT’s epidemiology team – the disease detectives – to make over 100 calls to close contacts and confirmed COVID-19 patients to advise them of their potential exposure to the virus and how to go about quarantining themselves for the required period.

Keeley, whose day job involves ploughing through drowning data to make sense of the bigger picture of drowning in Australia, is currently in her final semester of Master of Public Health (Advanced) at the Australian National University in Canberra.

When ACT put out a call for volunteers in mid-March, Keeley was only too happy to help. She says “It is the right thing to do. We can all help in different ways, whether it is staying home and avoiding non-essential travel, staying in quarantine if we’ve been in contact with confirmed cases, or checking in with our families and neighbours. I have the capacity to help so it is only right to apply my skills and knowledge to the response efforts.”

Keeley adds “My job as a member of Royal Life Saving’s research team is ultimately to improve public health and save lives through collecting, analysing and acting on data. Volunteering as a contact tracer is an extension of this ethos.”

Justin Scarr, Royal Life Saving’s CEO, commented “We are really proud to support Keeley’s learning journey and work as a contact tracer. Her wider interest in Global Public Health and contributions to various Royal Life Saving statements on COVID-19 over the past six weeks have been invaluable. This has included an analysis of the impacts of swimming pool closures and a review of the needs of businesses and employees across the aquatic industry.”

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