Times and the ways of doing things may have changed a little recently do the COVID-19 pandemic, but officials with Fontanelle Fire and Rescue are saying they’re ready to respond to medical calls properly should they be called into action.
The coronavirus situation that has swollen across the nation since mid-March has heightened an already strong attention to detail EMS crews typically have.
“When we walk into a house wearing a mask and a gown, we’re going to look a lot different than what we would have six months or a year ago where we’d come in with every day clothes,” said Tyson Sickles, Assistant Fire Chief. “At this point it’s all precautionary.”
The Adair County Sheriff’s Office is screening callers to ask if they are showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 such as fever or cough, but Fontanelle Rescue is responding to all calls the same — by wearing full PPE.
Also, only two responders will be entering a residence when they arrive. These two will have the most contact with the patient unless others are needed.
“We got an EMS call [last Wednesday] and I had two members directly ask me ‘Do you need me to stay outside?’ It was a good feeling to see that our members understand the severity of this issue going forward,” Sickles said.
“We didn’t want our members to feel like they’re not needed because everybody’s a valuable piece to the team, and it’s not that we don’t need them. It’s more that we’re looking out for the safety of our volunteers. We want to keep everybody as safe as possible. Nobody goes into the house unless the medic in charge calls for more help.”
Fontanelle Rescue has been known for a long time for its short response times. Understanding that with an EMS call time is of the essence, Sickles also wants residents to know that responding may take an extra minute or two because of the extra precautions that are being taken by volunteers.
He also asks that residents be honest with dispatchers when they ask screening questions relating to the virus. Realizing the severity of the quick spread of the virus, he says, is a team effort between responders and the patient.
“We’re volunteers because we love doing it and love helping the community and that’s all we ask, for everyone’s patience. All the local units, we’re trying to do the best we can,” Sickles said. “Hopefully this is all precautionary and we can look back a year from now and say the things we did now were for the better and we won’t have to look back and ask why we didn’t do more.”