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9-1-1 and COVID-19: Prevention when seconds count in Colorado Springs

First Responder protection
Posted at 7:26 PM, Mar 10, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS — "It does meet the criteria for Corona,” An attention getting communication from a police scanner. Radio communication between first responders in Colorado Springs saying they need to use the newly added Corona Virus protocol.

The protocol is an aggressive prevention measure. "Make sure we're staying safe, but also keep you safe in the process," said Colorado Springs Fire Department Captain, Mike Smaldino. First responders do not have the option of avoiding places or people who may pose a COVID-19 threat.

Stepped-up protection has potential to create concern among anyone watching the emergency scene. Responders will wear face masks, goggles, surgical splash gowns, and gloves. "You're going to see us come into houses, into neighbor’s homes, go into businesses even, dressed in this gear,” said Smaldino, “It doesn't mean there's a confirmed case. It just means we're taking the universal precautions, that are out there."

The likely calls for the Corona Virus protocol, are when someone has symptoms that indicate a possible COVID-19 infection. The gear is also likely when going to medical clinics, urgent care centers, and assisted living centers. For calls where seconds count, like a heart attack or severe bleeding, emergency crews will likely wear less of the protective gear.

Preventing first responder exposure helps keep them on the job. In states where COVID-19 first appeared, some fire stations were suddenly down dozens of firefighters who had potentially been exposed. "So, they actually had firefighters they took off-line,” said Smaldino, “For 14 days." The corona virus protocol gear is proven protection for close contact with potentially contagious patients.