Changes being made to EMS operations due to COVID-19 concerns

 (WLUC Photo)
(WLUC Photo) (WLUC)
Published: Apr. 9, 2020 at 5:47 PM EDT
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Emergency medical services (EMS) across the state are changing the way they operate due to coronavirus concerns.

"For sure things have changed with the way we operate. Typically, we would use gloves as our standard precaution, and now based on the dispatch information that we receive from dispatch, that changes based on some of the signs and symptoms that dispatch tells us,” said Bay Ambulance of Baraga Director, Gary Wadaga.

One of these changes, Wadaga says, is sending in one first responder initially to a residence to screen the patient for COVID-19 symptoms.

"We want to limit the number of people that potentially could be exposed. So, depending on the call, we will send one person in with their full PPE [personal protective equipment], evaluate the patient, and determine the level of care they need,” said Wadaga.

Gary Johnson, manager of Marquette County Central Dispatch, says callers are asked questions to determine the risk of coronavirus exposure for first responders.

"We advise them [EMS] of the answers that are given, and that will direct them as to how they enter the residence,” Johnson said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed

Tuesday, which eases staffing requirements for ambulances and also extends expiration dates for EMS personnel licenses.

Wadaga says this is a good move for all emergency personnel.

"It allows us to provide a service when potentially a number of crew members could be infected with this disease or any others,” Wadaga said.

Johnson adds that while these measures may be more time consuming than before, it is also more important now than ever to protect first responders.

"It's very important because obviously as things progress with the pandemic, we need to keep them healthy so that they're there to respond,” Johnson said