As the COVID-19 story continues to unfold, I want to share some details of our response to the pandemic and operational plans for Monroe Ambulance as they relate to our employees and the communities which we serve and our First Responder partners. First, know that the safety and welfare of our employees is our top priority. Education through daily updates, one-on-one verbal updates, daily pre-shift screenings and aggressive decontamination protocols have been put into action.
Beyond the welfare of our staff, the goal of our leadership team is to ensure we continue to provide the very best in delivery of prehospital care to which you have become accustomed. To that end, we are adapting our operations to the dynamic landscape of this healthcare crisis as information and updates are available. We have implemented a COVID Response Team meeting twice daily to exchange information gathered from all available sources such as local, state and federal agencies and distil actionable summaries to our employees ensuring crew and patient safety.
9-1-1 Calls and Emergency Response Protocol Updates
Should you dial 9-1-1 in Monroe County for a Medical Emergency, Emergency Medical Dispatchers will be asking additional questions to callers that report symptoms related to the Coronavirus. The responses to these questions are being forwarded to the responding Ambulance crews to ensure that they take appropriate precautions for their welfare and that of the patient and their family.
Monroe Ambulance will follow strict protocols when we respond to Medical calls with reported patient symptoms that have been associated to COVID-19 virus, including fever of 100°F or higher, cough, body aches, sore throat, and/or difficulty breathing. These evolving protocols have been developed through recommendations the CDC, NY State Department of Health and local health officials with consideration of the latest effective precautionary measures. Currently, this may include the donning of gloves, eye protection, masks, face shields, and gowns. Additionally, patients may be asked to wear a mask as appropriate. These precautions are to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Until such time as the risk of exposure is under control, we are limiting additional riders in our ambulances, and for those cases of suspected communicable illness it will be disallowed entirely. While we understand this may be inconvenient for family members, limiting the spread of this virus must be a top priority.
Our standard operating procedures have required adherence to an ambulance decontamination protocol after every patient transport. The disinfectant used has been confirmed to be effective against the COVID-19 virus by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Additional measures within our facilities have been implemented to lessen the possibility of transmission of the virus between personnel, including an increased frequency of disinfection of door handles throughout the facility, restroom decontamination. To further reduce the number of interactions between employees that could result in transmission of the virus, we are defining separate work areas for administrative staff, crew and dispatchers.
With the wellness of our employees at the highest priority, we will continue to provide them the latest information with respect to COVID-19 and other relevant topics daily. Unfortunately, exposure is but one concern. This crisis is impacting our employees indirectly, as their lives are being impacted the same ways as the rest of us.
With the closure of Monroe County Schools, childcare will present a significant challenge for crew members without childcare arrangements to be availability to report for duty. Monroe is implementing flexible scheduling programs to adapt schedules of our providers, ensuring that the communities we are responsible to protect are being served appropriately.
Resources and Latest Updates
We rely on our partners for the most up to date information, including the following local, state and federal websites that are kept current by government agencies:
Ø Monroe County COVID-19 Resources - www.monroecounty.gov/health-coronavirus
Ø NY State Department of Health - www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/
Ø Centers for Disease Control (CDC) - www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/
Thank you and be well,
Thomas C. Coyle