NOTE: ARTICLE ARCHIVED AS IS ON THE DAY OF ORIGINAL POSTING FROM CITYOFCAMAS.US
In this video , Mayor Barry McDonnell speaks with Cliff Free, EMS Chief, about their current practices in keeping first responders, and the community safe.
Summary and Minutes:
0:17- A thank you to all First Responders. There have been no cases on the Camas team, and this shows their adherence to all precautions.
1:05- About the EMS division of the Fire Department:
They have over 50 paramedics and firefighters. They provide medical emergency first response for Camas and Washougal. They also provide ambulance services for both cities and service East County Fire & Rescue, which is a 70 square mile area of unincorporated land north of the two cities.
1:45- How is the department coping with the COVID-19 pandemic?
This is a scary time, particularly for the first responders. The department has a solid plan with protections for providers and patients. The crew is dedicated to serving the community.
2:52- What is being done to protect first responders from exposure?
They understand the risk to their providers, but they also understand the risk that their providers present to the public in terms of acting as a vector and transferring the virus from one patient to another. The goal is to keep the providers healthy and limit their exposure. They have the proper Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). They have built-in time to decontaminate their rigs and equipment between calls, shower, and change uniforms. Their stations are restricted to on-duty personnel only. They are conducting temperature screens to ensure personnel is healthy when they arrive to work. They repeat that mid-shift and when they go home. The station is regularly decontaminated. It is due to the diligence of their team that everything is clean, decontaminated, and ready for the next call.
4:35- Have these precautions changed or limited their response to calls?
Yes and no. They respond to all calls. But their arrival on the call looks different. They have instituted a Canary Protocol, they recognize that everyone they come across is a potentially infectious patient. This means they send a single person in first with full PPE, including goggles, mask, gown, and gloves to initially assess a patient and make sure they don't have signs or symptoms of flu-like illness or something that can be a risk to the team, hospital staff or to other people they come into contact with. That initial first responder notifies the rest of the crew of the level of personal protection that they need for this call. They are making an attempt to only bring the number of people that are needed on the scene to care for the patient.
6:02- There are a couple of things people should be prepared for when someone calls 911:
Dispatch is going to ask you about your exposure to coronavirus/COVID-19 positive people: if they're in your home, workplace, or in your personal community. That allows first responders to make sure that they are properly prepared.
Dispatch will ask that a person try to, if possible, to come to the front door. This is so first responders, if possible, have less exposure into a home. This protects first responders and hospital staff. We need to keep EMS and healthcare workers healthy.
The process won't take a great deal of time, but there will be additional questions asked. These are important precautions.
7:20- So far these precautions have worked exceptionally well. Within their agency, there have been no illnesses that have been related to the coronavirus since its inception. They attribute this to the early adoption of new processes, but also the unbelievable social compliance with the restrictions that have been put in place on the community. The community has responded remarkably. Together we have been able to limit the spread to keep this from being too acute and overwhelm our local services.
8:23- They have been navigating this COVID landscape since the beginning of March. During this time, they have protected their employees while transporting many sick patients. The community response to social restrictions has been phenomenal, which is important. We're all in this together. Be safe and make good decisions. Take care of yourself and others. We will get through this. Camas-Washougal, we got this!