WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - First responders in the DMV are facing challenging times with the COVID-19 crisis sweeping the nation and they’ve had to adjust some of their protocols as well as their approach to patients.
At least one tested positive for the virus, which has had a rippling effect.
While they deal with infectious diseases on a regular basis, COVID-19 has thrown first responders a curveball.
In the District, 67 firefighters are on self-quarantine after one firefighter tested positive, and one is still under investigation.
Sixteen Prince George’s County firefighters are in self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution.
So far, there aren’t any cases among Montgomery County first responders, but they’re still operating with an abundance of caution.
Montgomery County EMS Supervisor Dwayne Dutrow says they’re keeping crew numbers to a minimum, and they’re all wearing surgical masks to minimize contamination.
They’re also applying masks to patients. At that point, the crew is charged with determining whether they need further protection.
“From there they will have to determine if they need to expand any further with the protection the body isolation they already have their masks on they already have their gloves on, they then need to decide if this is a potential COVID-19 patient,” he said.
If they need more protection, the crews have gowns, splash shields, and N-95 masks - which provide added protection.
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In addition, they’re asking a number of questions - including whether the patient has been traveling, or if they have been around anyone who may have been exposed to the virus.
On the way to the hospital, the emergency room is then notified of a possible COVID-19 patient, and the crew is directed to a special isolation room set aside specifically to handle the illness.
Special go bags have also been designed so first responders always have access to the protection they need.