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How is COVID-19 impacting EMS response?

Written by Steven Pike on 24-Mar-2020 13:00:00

COVID-19-EMS-responseResilience and preparedness are at the heart of effective emergency response - and they are qualities that look set to prove increasingly important as the global CBRNe and HazMat community contends with the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19.

As the far-reaching impacts of the pandemic dominate the world news, more and more people are being asked to work remotely in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

But for those working in first response, "staying at home" just simply isn't an option.

In these challenging times, the Executive Editor of online magazine FireRescue1, Chief Marc S. Bashoor, has offered some powerful words of advice in a recent message to firefighters.

As he explains, the crisis is unprecedented in scope and scale, with protocols for dispatch and response being forced to respond and adapt on a daily basis.

But amidst the disruption, Bashoor says, there is also the opportunity for growth, learning and cohesion.

"This situation - at every level from the White House down to your community fire station - should be no different than any other incident, big or small," he explains.

But what does set this crisis apart, is the "instant-global-information opportunity" that it is offering first response personnel to observe, reflect, learn and grow as a profession.

Practicing community care

Bashoor stresses the importance of firefighters "leading from the front" by modelling good behaviour such as stringent hand-washing and hygiene practices, the implementation of social distancing, where practical and the introduction of daily wellness checks for employees and volunteers reporting for duty.

Where COVID-19 is present or suspected, the use of appropriate PPE (disposable gown, gloves, eye protection and NIOSH-approved N95 respirator etc) will also be essential as protocols dictate.

Some fire departments have begun screening calls for COVID-19 symptoms while others have established specific COVID-19-only response units in a bid to minimise spread among crews and transport units.

Plans for quarantining and remote work scenarios also look set to be put into action, including the creation of virtual Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs) and the carrying out of certain administrative tasks from people's own homes.

A front-row learning opportunity for first responders

Finally too, Bashoor reflects on the key differences between the global response to the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak and the COVID-19 public health crisis.

As he points out, there was no formal national fire protection system one hundred years ago - let alone access to the robust pool of technological advancements, social media platforms and communications systems that we have available to us today.

A century ago, the opportunity to learn was limited to first-hand experience or the informal sharing of information between coworkers. Today however the situation is vastly different, with access to crucial data and information available at the end of a phone or at the touch of a button.

In the midst of this global emergency, there are invaluable opportunities to learn, to build leadership and to continue to serve with integrity.

EMS personnel are "the tip of the spear" for the COVID-19 emergency response," Bashoor says.

"And you are sitting in a front-row classroom seat."

A message from Argon Electronics

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to rapidly evolve, the wellbeing and safety of Argon's employees, customers and partners is our primary focus at this time.

We are closely monitoring the situation, we have plans in place to handle a wide variety of potential scenarios and we will continue to react quickly and responsively to the evolving conditions as new information becomes available.

Our supply chain and internal manufacturing processes remain robust and we do not currently foresee any problems in being able to meet our orders.

In the event that this situation changes however, we will notify you as soon as possible.

There are a number of exhibitions and events that we were due to attend this year and which have since been cancelled or postponed.

To date we are able to confirm that the SRP 2020 Annual Conference, which was scheduled for this April, has now been cancelled.

The CBRNe Summit Europe, which was due to take place in Brno in the Czech Republic in June has also been postponed to later in the year.

In the meantime if you have any queries or concerns related to the ongoing provision of your CBRNe and HazMat training needs, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Topics: first responder

Steven Pike

Written by Steven Pike