SAN ANTONIO — Bexar County ESD 2 firefighters are used to handling medical calls and doing everything they can to save lives. Now, they're taking additional measures to keep their own crews healthy and safe.
"We have to protect our workforce," said Bexar County ESD 2 Assistant Chief Mark Montgomery. "We’re cohabitating in our fire stations, EMS stations, 6-10 people living in one place, so if we expose one person, we’re exposing more people."
Montgomery says each shift will now start with temperature checks and questions about symptoms. If a firefighter shows any signs of novel coronavirus, they're expected to go home, according to Montgomery. When they show up to medical scenes, one crew member is directed to approach first.
"They’ll make initial contact from a distance and start asking questions at that point," Montgomery said. "At first it was travel history, now it’s, have you had any shortness of breath, cough, fever, or have you been exposed to someone who had known exposure or has those symptoms?"
If there's no issue, the rest of the crew can get out.
"[That way,] if they’ve been found to have COVID, we’ve limited the number of people exposed to it," Montgomery said. "If it’s a critical patient we realize we’re going to have to put those rules aside and come in as we normally would."
The plan is to only transport emergency patients to the hospital.
"The hospitals are going to see a surge from [coronavirus], we don’t want to add to that and let someone get exposed to something they didn’t already have," Montgomery said.
They're asking that when out on calls, neighbors don't approach unless it's necessary, in line with social distancing advice. That means events for families are also off-limits -- so they'll give fire safety presentations and engage with kids across social media.
"So we still get these kiddoes involved and engaged," Division Chief of Fire Prevention Rudy Khalaf said.