(WKBN) – We have heard so many stories about first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they have had to change the way they operate. The same goes for local emergency medical service workers.
Before a potential COVID-19 patient gets to the hospital, their first contact with medical help may be inside of an ambulance.
Local EMTs know that risk and have prepared. They’ve designated certain ambulances in their fleets to deal with coronavirus-related calls only.
“It makes the [decontamination] process a whole lot quicker than if we put them in a regular ambulance,” said. “The [decontamination] takes a whole lot longer so we have three ambulances that will respond. The COVID trucks is what we’re calling it now.”
The insides of these ambulances are lined with plastic. After a trip, it is sanitized right away.
If coronavirus patients were taken in a regular ambulance not lined with plastic, sanitizing every inch would take too long.
“Specifically how we have it set up with the plastic inside makes it easier,” said Canfield Deputy Fire Chief Matt Radrick. “The virus can’t get into the little crevices. We are spraying down the inside of the ambulance the best we can after every call to make sure that we are killing off the virus so we are not contaminating each other.”
They’re also doing this at Lane LifeTrans in Mineral Ridge. LifeTrans has taken 59 confirmed COVID-19 cases to the hospital so far. Forty-five of those patients were in the COVID-19 trucks.
LifeTrans also changed how the staff works inside of the ambulances.
“We incorporated having our employees wear PPE on all calls now versus just the people who were exhibiting signs at the beginning,” Chief Tom Lambert said.
Both Lambert and Radrick encouraged people who start having symptoms to call their primary doctor before an ambulance. But if you need immediate help, they will answer the call.
“We’re 24/7 like we always have been,” Radrick said. “If they have a medical emergency and need to go to the hospital, they still need to call 911 and we’ll come out and transport them just the same as we would before this happened.”