COVID-19 affecting ambulance services in Baraga County

First responders asking the public to comply with Coronavirus-related questions
Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 5:53 PM EST
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BARAGA, Mich. (WLUC) - Baraga County is currently one of three U.P. counties to have a COVID-19 test positivity rate over 20%.

Gary Wadaga, Director of the Bay Ambulance EMS Center, says some dispatchers have decided to temporarily put themselves on the sidelines.

“It’s been a challenge,” Wadaga said. “We’ve lost some people that prefer not to go on those types of calls because of comorbidities or family issues that they would prefer not to take the virus home to them.”

Wadaga says the ambulance corps, though, has all the PPE it needs when responding to emergencies, as the federal and state government sent 60 days worth of gowns, masks, and other supplies.

“Surgical masks are worn at a very minimum along with gloves on all calls,” he explained. “Then, based on the dispatch information and where we might be headed to before that dispatch call, we take additional precautions.”

With winter approaching, the director with 38 years of experience is strongly asking the public to be transparent in regards to any COVID-related questions.

“When we ask about fever, cough, and illness associated with COVID symptoms,” he stated, “we want them to be honest with the call because the dispatch center is giving us that information so that we can come in prepared.”

And, in case any members of his team come down with, or are exposed to, the virus, Wadaga says there is a backup plan.

“They would dispatch an ambulance from downstate,” he said, “that would come up here and serve our area until the 14 days are up or until people are well enough to completely staff all four of our ambulances.”

Wadaga says the first responders choosing to take time away will return once case numbers and the positivity rates decrease.

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