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Huntsville paramedics prepared for future Covid-19 encounters

HEMSI officials said they have a number of mechanisms to keep their EMTs and paramedics safe if they encounter someone with a potentially infectious disease.

Posted: Mar 8, 2020 11:24 PM
Updated: Mar 9, 2020 7:36 AM

As paramedics with Huntsville Emergency Medical Services Inc. (HEMSI) prepare for their shifts, the ambulance service is also preparing for another expected event: the arrival of Covid-19 patients in Alabama.

"We've been working with our dispatch center to implement a special protocol called the 'Emerging Infectious Disease Tool.' And that helps us identify anybody who's been traveling to countries that have been affected by Covid-19 or maybe been in close contact with somebody who's had Covid-19," said Dea Calce, the chief operating officer for HEMSI.

Following the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HEMSI has plenty of personal protective equipment (PPE) available for its EMTs and paramedics in case they encounter someone who may have the symptoms of Covid-19.

Those items include a protective gown, a splash shield, gloves and N95 respirators. They also have higher levels of protective gear available in case the CDC decides to raise the threshold for what they recommend.

Soon, HEMSI will also be receiving a new kind of disinfectant that will allow them to clean their ambulances even faster.

"This is just kind of an upgraded way to disinfect and ambulance and we're expecting that to be here within maybe two to three weeks," said Calce.

Calce said because HEMSI trained for other disease outbreaks previously, like with Ebola, its staff is ready to deal with Covid-19 whenever it surfaces.

"The preparation is slightly different, but the principles of preparing to deal with an infectious patient are the same," said Calce.

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