First Responders Adjust To Changing Coronavirus Protocols

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Protocol for first responders is changing rapidly amid the coronavirus pandemic, and several San Diego agencies held meetings Monday to address issues that may arise.

As for officers, they have always been trained to keep a safe distance from the public. But in the event of a potential coronavirus exposure, the San Diego County Department of Health determine if an officer needs to be tested or quarantined at home or at a hotel, according to San Diego Police Department spokesperson Lieutenant Shawn Takeuchi.

Changes to the way firefighters respond to emergencies starts with 911 operators countywide, according to San Miguel Fire Protection District (SMFPD) Chief Chriss Brainard.

Operators will ask the caller if they have a fever, a dry cough, difficulty breathing, and if they have traveled outside of the U.S. in the past 14 days. If the caller answers yes to any one of those questions, the responding crews will be notified.

SMFPD personal will ask the same questions when they arrive, but from from 6 feet away. If a patient has a fever or dry cough, firefighters will change into protective gear and put a mask on the patient.

A resolution approved by the SMFPD gave the department access to $150,000 in funding for new protective gear for firefighters.

This is all in an effort to protect first responders from being infected with the virus.

Several firefighters have brought up concerns about the high risk of bringing the virus back home. Another issue to consider is the possibility of having to quarantine. Chief Brainard said he is looking at several options, including hotels, RV's, and even fire stations.

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