Peoria-area emergency responders are taking new precautions as they grapple with the coronavirus.
Dispatchers are now conducting basic screening to find out if first responders may be dealing with a potential COVID-19 case, and to figure out how many people they need to send.
"Obviously we want to have a very safe approach for our providers to make sure they have good situational awareness when they get into a potential case, and that way we know to prepare," said Dr. Matthew Jackson, the head of Peoria Area EMS. "It would take very, very little mistake to put down an entire crew into quarantine, so we need to have a measured response to these cases."
He said emergency responders arriving on scene are doing "from-the-door" checks from a social distance to ask follow-up assessment questions.
"Once they make contact, they're going to be asking a few more questions to determine if there is a risk," Jackson said. "Once they figure out that there is a risk, then they will be putting on appropriate protective equipment. When they put on the appropriate protective equipment, they will be limiting providers in the patient's sphere to do an appropriate assessment and everyone else is kept outside unless absolutely needed."
So far, medical responders are handling "a handful" of potential COVID-19 cases identified through screening every day, Jackson said.
Jackson said not to be surprised if only a single responder shows up to an initial medical call. He said Peoria area responders are seeing a lower call volume right now as people take the stay-at-home order seriously.
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