BAY COUNTY, Fla (WMBB) — Across the country, first responders are continuing to answer the every-day call for help when it comes to emergencies, but local paramedics say the coronavirus is changing how they do their work.
“Regardless of the patient’s complaint whether it be a stubbed toe or a severe respiratory problem, we are going to protect our crews which is also in turn going to protect the patient,” said Bay County EMS Captain, Danny Page.
Page says the outbreak is changing the protocols for how they do their work every day, like spraying down the inside of ambulances with surgical cleaner after every call, as well as wiping down equipment and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) for every situation, even if the call is non-coronavirus related.
“As this epidemic spreads and as it worsens we are also changing the tactics that we are using to keep ourselves and our patients safe,” said Page.
Along with the nonstop cleaning and PPE wear, for some, this means leaving work clothes at work, not just for themselves and the patients but for their loved ones at home.
“A lot of us have talked about the steps that we take, whether it be changing our clothes and showering at work and leaving in civilian clothes and not bringing those things home to our families,” said Page. “Making sure that we are as clean as can possibly be that we don’t endanger our families.”
Page said that Bay County leadership is already working to secure hotel rooms and other facilities for first responders to quarantine if they become sick.
As the outbreak spreads, he’s encouraging residents to do what they can to help first responders everywhere save lives.
“I think we should all do our part as best we can to limit the contact and stay home and flatten the curve,” he said.
According to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), which represents over 320,000 fire fighters and paramedics in the U.S. and Canada, as of Sunday, over 700 members had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and over five thousand had been quarantined.