Paris EMS paramedics are at the forefront of the current COVID 19 pandemic. As such, Crew Chief and Designated Infection Control Officer Jason Dyess has been working diligently since the beginning of the pandemic by restructuring the department’s response protocols.
“Coronavirus has changed how we respond to emergencies,” Dyess said. “What we’ve done is implement a PPE matrix for every call.”
The PPE matrix ensures that local paramedics are kept safe when responding to all kinds of calls as there are Asymptomatic people out there, which in turn can continue the spread of the virus.
“No matter the type of call we respond to, we will begin the call with gloves, eye protection, and a facemask,” he said. “We are adding that the ‘level 1’ protection is a must and allows for safe interaction between the patient and paramedic, even on a simple call for help.”
The aim of the new protocols in place is to ensure they are staying as lower risk as possible when responding.
“We also have a six-foot initial assessment in place when we get to someone’s house,” added Paris paramedic Kellie Newman. “This means that we will meet someone at the front door and ask certain questions before entering the house to render help.”
This may seem a little unorthodox, but Newman explained that there are habitats to which have had a definite case of coronavirus. Before entering such a habitation, in those particular cases, paramedics will step up to another level of PPE protection, and their partner will remain outside of the home, thus only putting one person in a higher risk situation of being around the virus.
When it comes to gearing up for level two PPE, your local paramedics are taking every precaution to ensure their safety.
“On average it takes us about 5-min to gear up in full PPE coverage,” explained paramedic Bryan Mackey
Although nothing from their day to day operations have changed, Paris EMS has only slightly altered their way of responding.
“Our local dispatchers have been a huge part of our department’s success in our paramedics staying safe and healthy,” said Mackay.
With dispatchers asking several more questions with every call they answer Dyess said it was a huge part in each paramedic staying safe and having the ability to respond correctly with the correct PPE.
“Not only have our dispatchers helped with how quickly we can render aid, but our county volunteer fire departments have also gone above and beyond to ensure the safety of first responders and patients,” added Mackey.
“There are times where we will call the patient en route to a scene so we can begin the initial assessment of what is happening. For the calls in the county, our volunteers also help greatly as they are usually first on scene and can advise what level of PPE is required,” explained Newman.
“We’ve taken a more proactive approach in our department’s monitoring of employees,” said Dyess. “Because we live together for a full 24-hour shift, we are constantly monitoring our temperatures and ensuring we are sticking to these new protocols which aline with state and federal recommendations.”
Implementing their own decontamination protocols have also helped with keeping stations and employees safe.
With extra uniforms at each station, Paris EMS paramedics are constantly ensuring that the likelihood of cross-contamination of the coronavirus is as small as it could be.
“Our number one priority is to keep ourselves and the community as safe as we can,” said Dyess. “This even goes as far as when we are outside of our shift. We collectively are wearing masks, ensuring that we are socially distancing and doing the same decontamination at home that we do at the station.”
Knowing they are at the forefront of the pandemic, local paramedics aren’t afraid of going the extra mile to ensure that everyone is safe. From home to the supermarket to rending the call for help-your Paris EMS crews are staying as safe as possible to make sure that COVID 19 numbers stay down and the community can slowly get back to normal sooner rather than later.
“We know this is tough on everyone, but we are proud to say that our new protocol additions are keeping everyone as safe as possible and COVID 19 has not hindered our service to help our community when the call comes in,” said Dyess.