Wednesday, March 25, 2020
AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Augusta Fire/EMS talked up precautionary steps they're taking against COVID-19.
At a news conference Wednesday morning, fire officials showed off the protective equipment they'll be wearing on any calls related to coronavirus.
The equipment includes a gown, an N-95 mask and two sets of gloves.
The goal, fire officials say, is to make sure that EMTs and firefighters remain as safe as they can as the virus continues to spread.
"We will take extra precautions to ensure we are protected when we are responding," EMS Chief James Kelly said.
Kelly said emergency technicians have already responded to several calls using the equipment.
"It's very important for us when responding to these calls because we want to be prepared at all times to respond to whatever emergency that presents, so ensuring our personnel is safe is the best measure," Kelly said.
Regardless, preparation has been key.
“We’d rather be prepared than not,” the chief said.
Still, with demand high for this type of necessary equipment, fire and emergency officials say they are looking to get out ahead of any stock shortages.
"We’re working with the Georgia Department of Public Health and we’ve since put orders in as well. Of course, we know there’s a national backlog, but we are taking the necessary steps to make sure that our guys are safe," Kelly said.
Augusta EMS/Fire is asking, however, that any local businesses who may have any N-95 masks, medical exam gloves, surgical gowns, or safety eyewear to please donate them. Call ahead at 706-821-2909.
A screening process has also been added to any 911 calls related to the virus based on questions and guidelines from the CDC.
They'll ask things like have you traveled outside the country in the last two weeks or if you've been in contact with someone who has.
If you answer yes to any of those questions or if you're having respiratory issues, they'll arrive wearing their protective gear and ask you to meet them outside if you can.
The process only adds a few extra seconds but allows fire department and EMS workers to keep operating at full strength.
"The service is not stopping," fire/EMS spokesman Jason DeHart said. "Augusta Fire is running at full speed. We just wanna make sure that people are doing what they can not only to protect themselves but our firefighter EMTs as well."
Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.