Learn how first responders are protecting themselves from the coronavirus

SPOKANE, Wash. — When it comes to protecting yourself from the coronavirus, one of the obvious solutions would be to stay away from anyone who’s sick.

What does that mean for first responders? They have to work with sick people everyday.

“The primary thing we’ve been doing is just getting a plan in place,” said Michael Lopez, Emergency Medical Services Manager for the Spokane Fire Department.

While there aren’t any confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Spokane, first responders are ready for that possibility.

“If we don’t have good processes in place, it won’t take too long before our resources are tapped,” said Lopez.

Part of that process includes coming up with a pandemic outbreak protocol.

“It really provides a foundation for how we will respond, or more importantly, how we will create systems to help the EMS responders,” Lopez said.

Step one is providing first responders with protective equipment.

“Such as masks, protective eye wear, gloves, and gowns,” said Lopez.

The next step includes limiting each workers exposure to the virus.

“We will probably send one EMS provider in to make contact with the individual and assess their level of sickness,” Lopez said.

They can’t do it alone. Lopez said protecting themselves and the community starts with you.

“You need to take care of yourself. The same message we’re sending to firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs is what we should be telling the rest of the public,” he said.

If you aren’t severely ill, Lopez wants to stress that you shouldn’t call 911. It’s important to contact your primary care doctor first or your local ER clinic by phone.