In Dallas a few weeks ago, an ambulance company responded to a 9-1-1 call to make a routine pickup at an apartment building for a man who seemed to have the flu.
For an ambulance worker or a first responder, such a call is the most routine of routine calls. However, unbeknownst to those first responders in Dallas, the man being picked up on that routine call had the Ebola virus, making the patient transfer anything but routine.
Fire Chief Gene Doherty – who also serves a role in the City’s Emergency Management – said that situation in Dallas is something that all firefighters, EMTs, police officers and school officials should keep in the backs of their minds as they perform their duties over the next few months.
With the threat of such dangerous viral diseases seemingly at anyone’s doorstep, the routine is no longer routine.
Revere public safety and school officials have heightened informational campaigns about infectious diseases to prepare the minds of school workers and first responders to the threat of the Enterovirus and Ebola.
“We sent out lots of information to members of our Fire Department, to the Board of Health and our Police Department last week,” said Doherty. “We participated in a conference call with [the state Department of Public Health (DPH)] last week as well. While our awareness in the Fire Department has been heightened by this, our members are constantly prepared to use ‘universal precautions,’ which is proper protection for the patient and us. We can be exposed to multiple types of diseases (hepatitis, AIDs, and numerous other infectious diseases) on any call and we are trained to follow protocols.”
He said information is posted and reviewed by every shift on the department. Doherty also said the Fire Department would be restocking the fire apparatus with additional protective equipment and utilizing the State Hazmat team for any biohazard that is necessary.
Doherty said they would be participating in a Conference Call with the State DPH today, Oct. 15.
School Supt. Paul Dakin said the district has taken the opportunity to fine tune its existing plans for dealing with such outbreaks – using a plan developed years ago during the Swine Flu Outbreak.
“I’ve gotten no calls from parents, but we are thinking about this,” said Dakin. “Enterovirus right now is more on our radar here than Ebola, but it’s all out there and being thought about. It all calls you to renew policies and procedures and to make sure you’re thinking is right…If we weren’t thinking about this and the Fire Chief wasn’t thinking about this and we weren’t getting our nurses ready, I think that would be a form of negligence. We are doing it and should be doing it.”
Dakin said the Parent Information Center (PIC), where new students come to register for school, is screening students who are coming from specific countries where there are outbreaks or those who have been to those countries.
If a student meets the criteria, PIC intake officers notify the Central Office and the district gets school nurses involved.