EMS Workers Attired For The Job

Eye protection, face mask, disposable gloves and smock, otherwise known as personal protective equipment, Rockbridge County Fire-Rescue and EMS Chief Nathan Ramsey said, is “good practice” for local personnel responding to medical calls during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Please do not be alarmed by this,” Lexington Fire Department captioned a photo of Facebook of their firefighter dressed in full personal protection equipment Tuesday. “Our number one priority is to protect the citizens that we serve.”

Ramsey told the News-Gazette Tuesday the protocol for EMS medical responses has been updated as a response to the recent health crisis.

“What we’re currently doing at the 911 Center is asking a series of screening questions for anyone who calls with flu-like symptoms,” he said.

Examples of these questions include, but are not limited to, screening for international travel, flu-like lower respiratory symptoms, and a fever of over 100.4.

“If [the call] is presenting an area of concern, we will take extra precaution,” Ramsey said. Affirmative answers to screening questions are not positive diagnoses for Coronavirus, he said. Rather, the answers to the screening questions are provided to responding workers for their precaution.

Along with the addition of personal protective equipment, updated protocol for EMS calls for one worker to exit an ambulance and provide the screened patient with a mask, then proceed with further assessment to limit exposure.

“We evaluate their vitals and determine if they need to be transported,” Ramsey said. If patients are not running a fever, have a low respiratory rate and are under the age of 60 with no underlying health conditions, they will be encouraged to and assisted in connecting with a primary care physician.

“We’ll provide a home monitoring form for folks in isolation, which doesn’t mean they are positive, they have just met certain criteria,” Ramsey said.

The home monitoring form outlines home health recommendations by the CDC, as well as records the patient’s initial vitals and provides space for them to track their vitals throughout the week. “Patient

“Patient care comes first,” Ramsey said. “High-priority” medical emergency calls, like those for chest pains or seizures, will be responded to as usual, he said.

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