What EMS workers are doing to stay safe and why you should stay home
There are inherent risks well noted by now for first responders who are on the front lines battling the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and each day the messages of stay home and practice social distancing need to be repeated because they are so important to keep everyone safe, healthy and flatten the curve of this virus.
EMS volunteers and EMT's are among the first responders at risk heading to any call during the pandemic with being the first people on site and they need to take extra precautions for the safety of the public and themselves.
Point Pleasant Borough EMS Squad Captain Andy Welsh says that before they head out to a call, each member puts on a full-body protective gown known as a Tyvek Suit (seen in video above and below) along with a P100 respirator face-mask or goggles and boot covers.
"For the protection of our members and every person in town that we come into contact with, we want to take the utmost safety precautions for everyone involved," Welsh told WOBM News. "When we go into houses extra precautions are going to be taken as well. It's going to take us a little while to get inside. Before the crisis took place, we were going into houses a little quicker. Now we have to take the precautions to protect our members, the agency as well as the patient."
They also seat the back of their ambulances with plastic to prevent the spread of germs and any infections.
When responding to a call, members of the first aid squad only go into a residence with limited supplies.
"We've gone to automatic blood pressure cuffs and different electronic devices to help asses the patients," Welsh said. "We're not brining in our full duty bag unless we absolutely have to just to prevent that from being covered with any type of possible infection if there was to be one inside the house."
Following a call each member helps to clean the ambulance and then take care of themselves.
"As soon as the crew (while still wearing their PPE gear) discharges the patient at the hospital, the entire truck front and back is wiped down with bleach wipes," Welsh said. "Once we get back to the building, the members will go into a decontamination site we've set up at the station, they'll take their PPE off, go to the clean zone of the tent, get into their regular clothes and then immediately go home or into our station to shower."
There is an additional round of cleaning the members conduct to disinfect the ambulance and the decontamination tent involving a spray blower that was donated by a Point Pleasant Borough resident.
"We take that spray blower and it blows a decontamination agent all over our decontamination tent," Welsh said. "Then we remove everything out of the truck such as the stretcher and the crew goes in and decontaminates the whole ambulance with the same spray and then that sits for 10-minutes and then it gets wiped down one more time to make sure that it's totally disinfected and ready for the next patient."
The First Aid Squad building gets a deep cleaning by a professional company once a week and each member does some disinfecting on a daily basis.