Covington firefighters assigned to the City’s new COVID-19 response ambulance got refresher training in using personal protection equipment today.
COVINGTON, Ky. - Covington is activating an ambulance it had in reserve and is assigning it to respond to all runs involving patients whose symptoms suggest they might have COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory disease that’s been deemed a global crisis.
Ambulance 5, as it’s designated,will operate out of Company 6 at 15th Street and Holman Avenue but will respond to calls throughout the City, Fire Chief Mark Pierce said.
“By doing this, we can reduce the risk of exposure to other firefighters and stations as well as better protect the public,” Pierce said.
As further protection, the three-person crew assigned to the ambulance will remain the same during each 24-hour shift, though obviously that crew will rotate day to day, he said.
This afternoon, crews were getting refresher training in the use of PPEs (personal protection equipment) and how to protect themselves.
The process of determining whether to dispatch the ambulance will begin when the Kenton County Emergency Communications Center receives a call, and call-takers ask questions about a patient’s symptoms, Pierce said. It’s important that callers be truthful, to protect everybody.
“Citizens will notice no difference in response times but may see a few changes in procedure,” Pierce said.
For example, when feasible, the caller should meet the ambulance crew at the door and answer a few questions, after which the crew might hand the caller and/or patient a mask to wear and might wait for Ambulance 5.
(Obviously, if a patient requires immediate life-saving interventions, the first responding crew will protect themselves as much as possible and get right to work, the chief said.)
Citizens also might notice a change in protective wear, he said. In general, ambulance crews will respond wearing masks, gloves and perhaps gowns, he said. But if COVID-19 is deemed a distinct possibility, the crew from Ambulance 5 might respond wearing Tyvek protective suits, a hooded full-length protective suit that looks like something worn at the scene of a hazardous materials spill.
“Nobody should be alarmed if this happens,” Pierce said. “The suits are just an additional layer of PPE - we just really need to protect our responders so they stay healthy enough to handle emergencies throughout the duration of this pandemic.”