EMS workers more critical now than ever before with COVID-19 threatening

Published: May. 22, 2020 at 6:53 PM PDT
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Odds are when you call 911 for a medical emergency paramedics will be the first people you see.

But those first responders are having to make major adjustments because of COVID-19.

"We're making sure that we don't turn everyone into little vectors," said REMSA ground paramedic Bryan Hallauer. "It's the same job with a lot more steps."

Changing daily routines to be prepared for future COVID-19 cases has been more mentally taxing than anything for emergency medical service workers.

"Although Washoe County as a whole is experiencing a decrease in call volume I feel like all the crews are having an increase in workload, if nothing else, just our cognitive workload and what we have to think about," Hallauer said.

Every time a new discovery gets posted about the Coronavirus medical professionals have to revise their protocol.

"We try to gather as much information as we possibly can in real time to change what we're doing dynamically as we deliver EMS services to Washoe County, Northern Nevada, and Northern California," according to Hallauer.

Even though protocol might change the level of care EMS workers provide hasn't changed.

"We always have prided ourselves on having a safe and clean environment in the back of the ambulance but that is paramount now," Hallauer said. "We wipe down everything."

Ambulances are always ready to go. So are the people inside - with enough new personal protective equipment to keep everyone clean.

Hallauer described the process he and his coworkers take for COVID-19 related call.

"We will put a smock on, we'll have a facial covering, and we'll have eye protection."

Each piece of PPE is discarded or cleaned after every use.

"The patient will also receive a facial mask in order to reverse isolate the patient and make sure everyone is safe as we transport them to the hospital," Hallauer added.

As we round out National EMS week it's clear REMSA has upped its game amid this pandemic. It's up to all of us to make smart decisions to help them out.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2020

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