Chrisman fire alters medical response

Other responders taking precautions, but not to extreme

Special to The Prairie Press
Posted 3/23/20

CHRISMAN — Until further notice, firefighters at Chrisman will respond to all medical calls wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and respirators.

Fire Chief Mike Marvin said while the …

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Chrisman fire alters medical response

Other responders taking precautions, but not to extreme

Posted

CHRISMAN — Until further notice, firefighters at Chrisman will respond to all medical calls wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and respirators.

Fire Chief Mike Marvin said while the appearance of firefighters in full protective body suits and respirators may be off putting, it is a simple precaution to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

He added responding while wearing the PPE is as much for the safety of the patient as it is for firefighters.

Paris Fire Chief Brian Gates said Paris firefighters are not responding on medical calls with PPE gear and respirators, but firefighters are taking due caution when dispatching information indicates the patient has a fever or has perhaps traveled recently.

“If we don’t need to be in the house, we may maintain our distance unless the ambulance crew needs help,” said Gates.

The chief added the fire department has the PPE clothing and respirators for firefighters but following the lead of the Horizon Health Ambulance, it is not necessary to respond that way to each call.

“If we wear it, and it’s not needed it could cause mass panic,” said Gates.

He speculated neighbors seeing emergency responders wearing such gear as a precaution could cause people to make unwarranted conclusions.

“We want to try and avoid mass hysteria,” said Gates.

Samantha McCarty, the nurse in charge of Horizon Health’s ambulance service, said all parts of Horizon Health are following guidance from the Edgar County Health Department, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

In addition, Carle Regional EMS sets the protocols for the ambulance operation. One of those protocols is 911 dispatchers are to screen callers and provide advance notification to paramedics as part of the dispatch.

“We are to remain at a safe distance of six feet, if possible and if the patient is exhibiting symptoms – fever, cough, shortness of breath and known exposure or travel – then we are to mask the patient,” said McCarty.

After loading the patient, the EMS workers are required to give advance notification to the receiving hospital of potential exposure.

McCarty added the emergency room staff are wearing N-95 respiratory masks, goggles or face shields and gloves.

The ambulances get fully cleaned before going on the next call.

“We are not wearing the recommended isolation gowns as PPE has begun to be a scarce commodity, and we are reserving those gowns for the healthcare providers who would be collecting testing specimens,” McCarty said.