Ambulance crews have to prepare for nearly everything when they go out on a call, including the swine flu. So far, crews are treating the new strain no differently from other airborne illnesses.
“This is something that has just come along that has just heightened our awareness,” says Battalion Chief John Muhr with the Cathedral City Fire Department. “It’s not necessarily something we have to change our operations to deal with it’s just our heightened awareness is up.”
Cathedral City is one of the cities in the valley that has its own ambulance service. The fire department is teaching Cathedral City Police how to use a special piece of equipment used during the swine flu outbreak.
Firefighters will train police to use the N-95 mask. It’s different from a regular surgical mask seen all over Mexico and commonly used by police. Those masks allow more air to enter through the sides of the mask. The N-95 is much tighter around the face for better protection.
“Every time I take a breath, I’m breathing directly through the mask I’m not breathing in through the sides or from the top,” says Cathedral City firefighter Jeremy Keenan.
The mask fits differently around every face, so firefighters will train Cathedral City Police on how to wear them. The police and fire departments will add the mask to their kit they use in the field.
Cathedral City is also in close communication with Riverside County. They hold daily conference calls to organize their efforts to fight the swine flu. The County has also handed out a list of procedures firefighters should follow to protect themselves and those they serve.
“The move disseminates information the better things seem to be relayed to the public,” says
Beyond the masks and gloves, communication might be the best tool to battle the not-so-common flu.