MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — As the coronavirus escalates, paramedics at Hunter’s Ambulance are going through drills to help prevent the spread of infectious disease.
“So, the first thing you are going to do is clean your gloves with hand gel just like you would your hands,” explained Stephen Van Dyke.
Van Dyke is training paramedics on how to properly put on and take off personal protective equipment like gloves, gowns, eye protection and N95 masks before transporting a patient to the hospital.
“My biggest fear is that we are going to have someone get exposed by accident, get exposed outside of work, not know it and come to work and now we have a problem because half of the company is exposed,” said Van Dyke.
This is some of the same equipment they trained on during the Ebola outbreak. These drills give paramedics a refresher course on how to stay safe in the field. Removing the gear properly is equally important. When paramedics are finished with a call, they’ll take off the protective equipment in a decontamination room in the hospital.
“We are going to clean ourselves up from the call,” Van Dyke told News 8. “Wash our hands, wash our face, anything we feel that is dirty. And we are going to put back on what we took off to go wipe everything down in the ambulance.”
A paramedic will go through two sets of protective gear per call. Van Dyke fears there won’t be enough personal protective equipment to handle the surge of coronavirus cases.
“That’s the problem right now is how many N95s are you going to use on each call? How many gloves will we use on each call? If we can’t get this stuff and we use our supplies then what is going to happen?”
Making it harder is that Van Dyke said most protective equipment is not reusable.
“The goggles are reusable so we can clean them, use them again but basically everything else they have on it is going in the garbage,” he said.