By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
Dearborn Fire Chief Joseph Murray, whose emergency medical technicians cover Dearborn and Melvindale, said the department’s first responders are ready to protect themselves while helping residents who may have the coronavirus.
“The Dearborn Fire Department has an adequate supply of PPE (personal protective equipment) at this time,” he said. “We have been working with our regional partners to acquire additional.”
Murray said they have one dedicated ambulance in a central location which is taking all COVID-19 calls, unless superseded by a life-threatening emergency.
“If we receive a call for a suspected or confirmed COVID patient, this ambulance will be sent,” he said. “The ambulance will be in a central location, and will respond out-of-district for COVID callers.”
Murray said that for life-threatening emergencies, the closest ambulance will still respond.
“This process is being put in place to limit the number of first responders being exposed in an attempt to reduce transmission potential,” he said. “The decontamination of our crews and ambulances is a lengthy process, so we stress that only patients who have some type of emergency, along with possible COVID symptoms, call 911.”
Murray said that, to date, the department is operating well, and has been able to accommodate all calls without delay.
“Contingency plans have been prepared for future operational changes,” he said. “If we have ‘enough’ (PPEs) will ultimately be determined by the amount of call volume we see.”
Murray said residents who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19, or who have some of its symptoms, but are not in need of emergency intervention, should call their family physician.
“It is essential that residents do not call 911 unless they have a serious emergency,” he said. “With limited amounts of PPEs and with a desire to limit exposure of first responders, it is essential that citizens only utilize 911 if they have an emergency condition.”