While the opinions surrounding the lethality and seriousness of COVID-19 (CoronaVirus) vary across the country, we at the Shepherdstown Fire Department are putting in place certain procedures to better protect our personnel in the event of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 outbreak in the Shepherdstown region. While you may see additional precautions being taken by our staff, please note that these are completely in an abundance of caution and should not alarm you.
When preparing for and responding to patients with confirmed or possible coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), close coordination and effective communications are important among 911 centers (PSAPs), the EMS system, healthcare facilities, and the public health system. Leadership of these entities will work collaboratively to ensure close coordination of our response and resources.
The additional precautionary measures our staff are taking are in alignment with the CDC recommendation for EMS providers, and are only being utilized on patients with specific signs and symptoms, or in the event the patient has had definite interaction with a person confirmed to have COVID-19:
- You may see our staff donning more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) than you normally would, up to, and including surgical masks, face shields, N95 masks, gowns and goggles.
- Initial assessments may take place from a distance of at least 6 feet from the patient as we try to minimize patient contact to the extent possible until a facemask is on the patient.
- A facemask will be worn by the patient for source control.
- Drivers may wear a surgical facemask during transport.
Regardless of the call type or patient conditions, our staff will ensure that cleaning and disinfection procedures are followed consistently and correctly.
These recommendations are directly from the CDC recommendations for EMS providers. More information can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-for-ems.html. We take our role in our community seriously and are here to support you should you fall ill. Our intent is to protect our staff to the best of our ability.
Marshall DeMeritt, MS, IMC, NREMT