PPE, precautions, and daily informational updates provided by New Bedford EMS in Mass. has accounted for only 1 member who has tested positive, showing that infection control protocols have paid off in limiting its providers’ exposure to COVID-19.
EMS1 reports that the responder who tested positive was a man who worked part-time with New Bedford EMS as well as other jobs. The individual is currently not working for the agency.
The planning to protect EMS workers started in March when a task force involving Dr. Matthew Bivens, director of emergency medical services for Southcoast Health, New Bedford Emergency Management Agency, Police, Fire, and EMS, developed protocols for working during the pandemic.
Through July 20, New Bedford EMS has responded to 5,658 calls for service since March 1, including about 1,200 suspected COVID-19 calls, according to information provided by Mike Thomas, deputy EMS director.
Thomas said that all EMS personnel are required to wear N95 masks, goggles, face shields if needed, isolation gowns, gloves, and hoods.
Dispatchers will, at times, ask an individual suspected of having the virus if they are healthy enough to walk to the door to lessen the exposure to an EMT or paramedic. On most calls, EMS sends one into the home, while the other remains outside.
“EMS provides daily updates to the crews about COVID-19 as new information becomes available”, Thomas said. “They are all given temperature checks before the start of each workday. Every ambulance is sprayed with defoggers or spray guns after every call and then cleaned to sanitize the vehicles.”
Thomas added that “remaining healthy” is key to success.