Submitted by Clark Judge.
With the recent spike in documented cases of COVID-19 – both in Connecticut and nationwide – first responders are at greater risk of contracting the virus. For that reason, they have been reminded that, when answering calls, they must take care of themselves as well as their patients.
Naturally, they’re advised to wear masks, goggles and gowns and told to place masks on their patients. But they’ve also been notified to limit the number of persons in attendance to prevent exposure to the disease – with, if possible, one EMT and one fire personnel in the residence to assist.
Anything else? Yes. Killingworth Ambulance Association EMTs recently were given directions to follow when attending potential COVID-19 patients. Here are some of the recommendations:
- When in the ambulance, turn on the vent.
- Use temporal thermometers, otherwise known as forehead thermometers.
- Notify the hospital that you are transporting a patient with shortness of breath or a fever and advise it of respiratory precautions.
- Wash your hands with soap and water a minimum of 20 seconds.
- Use paper towels to shut the faucet and open doors.
- Decontaminate the entire ambulance, not just the patient compartment. That includes the steering wheel, all microphones and radios in the front and back and all door handles inside and out.
- At the end of ambulance run, remove and replace all personal protective equipment, including clothing, masks, goggles designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury or infection.
“KAA personal are taking this very seriously,” said Dan O’Sullivan, president of the KAA’s board of directors, “and they are very careful to don the appropriate gear, minimizing the number of people exposed to patients. It is also clear the Volunteer Fire Company is doing that, as well.”
Prior to touching the patient or entering a residence, first responders are advised to ask patients if they have fever, chills, coughing or shortness of breath … have traveled out of the country … had contact with persons who traveled outside the country … or work with people who recently traveled. In addition, Middlesex Hospital reportedly has changed its protocol for potential COVID-19 patients, receiving them through a separate screening process and keeping them in rooms separate from others.
The State Department of Public Health on Thursday reported the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Killingworth, a resident over 60 who is self-isolating.
“This is a very difficult time for everyone, including many of our volunteers,” said O’Sullivan. “Many of them are over the age of 60, have comorbid conditions or have vulnerable family members in their homes. Even those who don’t fall into these categories still expose themselves to the disease rather than follow the social-distancing guidelines.
“These volunteers are dedicated to providing service to the people in this town but face the difficult decision of exposing themselves … and their families … to this disease. Some have had to step away from service temporarily, and it pains them to do so. Others have tried to fill the gaps, putting more stress on them and their families. This is a very personal decision, and I appreciate the efforts and dedication of all.”