First responders on high alert while responding to calls during coronavirus pandemic

New Haven

MERIDEN, CONN. (WTNH) — At Hunter’s Ambulance 911 dispatch center,
the number of calls are increasing as more people are tested and diagnosed with coronavirus.

Erin Morrow, Operations Supervisor at Hunter’s Ambulance, said, “It’s a lot of flu-like symptoms; fever, sore throat, chills for days on end.”

At this dispatch center in Meriden, over 80% of the 911 calls are for flu-like symptoms. Every call is prescreened before EMT’s respond.

“They’re asking them about travel history,” Morrow said. “If they had been in contact with anybody with the flu if they have a fever. If they have chills, if they’ve had nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath.” A “yes” answer will trigger a flu response.

John Pierce, Infection Control Officer at Hunter’s Ambulance, told News 8, “If we determine any of the signs or symptoms that could be associated with COVID-19, we tell our crews to gown up.”

Staffing is effected when first responders come into contact with a COVID-19 patient.

“We have several team members who are out for 14 days right now, Pierce said.

Emergency workers worry about whether or not they’ll have enough personal protective equipment, and with that comes emotional stress.

“Everyone has stress from this, and we’ve been trying to manage it as best we can,” Pierce said. “We all signed up for healthcare, but no one expected there to be a pandemic either, and it’s all new for all of us.”

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