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Valley first responders alter protocols amid coronavirus outbreak


Fire crews are rapidly changing their protocols. First responders are coming in all geared up with protective equipment.

“Regardless of the call, we treating them all the same, we are treated them as all possibly infectious," said Nathan Gunkel, Captain of Palm Springs Fire Department.

Gunkel said there’s new standard gear used for calls. 

"Starting from head to toe, we wear eye protection, n95 mask and thats to stop any airbone particles from getting into our airway," said Gunkel. "We wear gloves and a jacket or gown depending what is needed.”

The department is also making drastic changes to how firefighters return from a call.

“Immediately after we're done, we’re disposing of all disposal items which include the gloves, masks and anything else that needs or may have gotten contaminated," said Gunkel. "We are decontaminating everything prior to getting back in our engine.” 

After three crew members responded to a call and treated a patient who then tested positive for the coronavirus, the fire department implemented a new addition to their policy: station isolation.

“Using station one as an example, they have to fill all their vacancies within the station of the guys that are assigned to station one," said Chief Greg Lyle. "Those crews are not supposed to mix with other firefighters from the other fire stations.”

Lyle said this protocol is in effort to limit the risk of exposure to the entire department. 

Plus, there’s a new process when entering the station. 

“Before they enter that door, there’s going to be a thermometer, a checklist where they have to sign off," said Lyle." The idea is to prevent any symptomatic people coming in to the fire house.”

Lyle said firefighters will have to check their temperature again at night.

If you have questions about coronavirus, please call the City of Palm Springs hotline at 760-902-1155. For more information. Click here.

Coronavirus / News / Top Stories

Dani Romero


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