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Sac Metro adds protections for firefighters responding to sick calls amid coronavirus pandemic

One of several precautions Sac Metro Fire District is taking is minimizing the amount of first responders who make contact with patients.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — As the coronavirus continues to spread, many employers are taking precautionary measures to protect their employees, including first responders. They are, after all, the ones who are on the front lines dealing with those who are sick.

The Sacramento Metro Fire District declared a local emergency today in response to the coronavirus. District spokesperon Chris Vestal said it was done so that Sac Metro would be able to request funding in case they need extra supplies or resources to deal with the pandemic.

Sac Metro is also changing the way they do things, in the midst of this pandemic.

"One of the primary things we're doing is we're having our call-takers at our dispatch center ask a couple additional questions when someone calls 9-1-1," Vestal said.

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The questions include whether the sick person has a fever, is coughing, or shows any other symptoms of the coronavirus. If the district believes the person has been exposed to the cornovirus, that's when the next precautionary step comes into play.

"We're going to put on special gloves, eye protection, a gown, and a respirator," Vestal explained.

The district is equipped with hazmat-like suits that first responders will use when they're going out on coronavirus-related calls.

Another precaution they're taking is that they're minimizing the responders who make patient contact. So it's possible there could only be one person inside assisting the sick individual while the other first responders wait at the door.

Ultimately, they're depending on the public to make this new initiative run smooth.

"It's really important if you call 9-1-1 to answer those questions appropriately," Vestal said. "That's going to help us get our gear on right away. That's going to protect us and protect you from further exposure."

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