EL PASO, Texas -- While some can work safely from their homes during the pandemic, others must put themselves at risk to serve the public: like first responders.
El Paso Fire Department officials said they have increased the precautions they are taking as community spread of the novel coronavirus picks up in El Paso. They said their already strict sanitary practices have not changed much, but they have implemented new measures to watch for the virus. Now, employees’ temperatures are checked for fever and all are watched for flu-like symptoms. These measures are all intended to protect first responders so they can continue serving the public.
The fire department is also monitoring 911 calls to determine whether patients or other people on the site of a call may have COVID-19.
“The safety of our personnel has always been paramount,” said Assistant Fire Chief Robert Arvizu. “We are seeing an unusual time with this crisis, but we have had the safety of our community as a highest priority whether it be a pandemic or any service we provide for the city.”
First responders are asking members of the public to be honest with 911 operators or responders in the community. It is important to disclose any symptoms you might be having, even if you are unsure if you have COVID-19. It is also important to disclose if you may have been exposed to the virus, but are not showing any symptoms. This will ensure fire crews are adequately prepared, and that hospitals they might take you to are prepared as well.
“If you know you have been exposed to COVID-19 it is extremely important,” Arvizu said. “Even if you are not showing symptoms. You may be asymptomatic and have the virus. We want to protect ourselves so we can serve you and our community that we respond to.”