‘Our service is 24-7’: During pandemic, first responders have no choice but to work

Updated: Mar. 25, 2020 at 10:34 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The work to control the spread of coronavirus in central Virginia continues, even among first responders who have no choice but to show up to work during this pandemic.

Public safety remains a priority, so how do those who work to keep you safe make sure they’re doing the same for themselves?

While many people are working from home right now, there are some professions that don't have that option.

"Our service is 24-7, 365,” Captain Chad Greedan of the Richmond Ambulance Authority said.

Area first responders have to get there when you need them most. But quite naturally, some local paramedics and EMTs are concerned.

"Questions that they have are what is their exposure risks, how do they protect themselves and we’re doing everything that we can everyday because it's constantly changing,” Greedan added.

The questions are especially critical as the Coronavirus spreads.

According to WVEC in the Hampton Roads, nine emergency responders there are now in isolation after they potentially came in contact with the virus.

"We've been very fortunate here but its inevitable it's going to happen with our line of work,” Greedan said.

It's why 911 dispatchers are screening calls to find out if people are showing symptoms before the Richmond Ambulance Authority arrives.

Over in Petersburg, responders are being screened before they report to their assignment.

“Before an officer goes on shift, his or her vehicle is sanitized,” said Public Safety Director Kenneth Miller. ”Each firefighter or officer comes to a certain location, they stay in their vehicle. The screener comes to them with PPE on and that screener assesses the employee to make sure the employee is fit for duty."

The public safety department also has a new mobile command center on hand.

"Let’s say we have an unusual occurrence where there’s an event in our city, we can take this piece of equipment there and operate with printers and computers and monitors,” Miller said.

Multiple efforts underway to make sure those who keep us safe can do the same.

"It's a passion. It's a calling, just the need for helping people,” Greedan said.

In addition to encouraging constant hand washing, crews at the authority have eye protection, masks, gowns and gloves in all of their ambulances.

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