COLORADO, USA — The COVID-19 outbreak is forcing emergency responders to rethink how they do their jobs.
Many are starting to take more precautions in an attempt to help slow the spread of the virus and keep first-responders healthy.
This is how some crews are responding to potential cases:
West Metro Fire Rescue
The new protocol is designed to slow the spread of the virus and limit exposure. If COVID-19 is suspected:
- Crews will wear head to toe personal protective equipment (gloves, facemask, goggles, full-body gown).
- One caregiver will conduct a patient exam.
- If the patient needs to be treated at a hospital, the ambulance will be turned into a mobile isolation room.
- First responders will call the designated hospital ahead of their arrival.
- Once the patient arrives at the hospital, first responders will disinfect and decontaminate gear and surfaces within the ambulance.
Frederick-Firestone Fire Protection District
In a Facebook post Friday, the Frederick-Firestone Fire Protection District said based on guidance from local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Colorado State agencies, they will take the following steps when responding to suspected COVID-19 patients:
- Weld County 911 dispatcher will first screen patients who have the coronavirus symptoms. Dispatchers will pass on any relevant information to crews, including the patient's recent travel history.
- Responding crews will limit their exposure by wearing personal protective equipment; including such items as gloves, masks, eyewear and other equipment as needed.
- If paramedics determine a patient is stable and not at risk, that person may be asked to contact their primary care physician and remain at home.
- If the patient needs to be taken to the hospital, the back of the ambulance will be turned into an isolation area.
- The department will notify the hospital so they may prepare as well.
- Once the patient has been transferred, crews will decontaminate and disinfect gear and the ambulance as current guidelines instruct.
Summit County Fire & EMS
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Summit County Fire & EMS said they held a refresher training in the proper use of personal protective equipment on Monday.
A Facebook post about the training said that when using the gear, crew members are required to follow handwashing steps before and/or after handling each piece of gear.
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